Here’s a short wrap for your reading/listening pleasure.

It’s Spring: Get Your Garden Going With These Helpful Resources

I love to get out in the garden. My favorite go-to resource for advice is the University of California Master Gardener Program, which fields more than 5,000 volunteers in communities across the state (including mine). The Master Gardener Program is a national program. It’s housed at the land grant institution in each state, but also connected to the USDA. You’ll find free gardening resources available here. Advice to grow by…just ask.

Rachel Surls.

Want to scale your gardening efforts up to the community level? Learn the ins and outs of creating a successful community garden with this resource guide. One of the guide’s co-authors is UCCE urban agriculture expert Rachel Surls; you can learn more about her work (and her award-winning book about the history of agriculture in Los Angeles) here.


James Beard Foundation 2018 Media Award Winners

Congratulations to all nominees and award recipients. The full list is here. All outstanding choices and worth checking out. A few of my favorites:

Journalism (Food and Health): “The Great Nutrient Collapse” by Helena Bottemiller Evich for PoliticoThis piece explores the ways in which changes in the atmosphere (think rising levels of carbon dioxide) are impacting the nutritional quality of some of our crops. This reporter – and this publication – consistently provide some of the finest agricultural reporting out there. Well-deserved.

Journalism (Foodways): “The Teenage Whaler’s Tale” by Julia O’Malley for High Country News.

Writing and Book of the Year: Michael Twitty’s “The Cooking Gene.” This is one of the best books I’ve ever read…get it.

Publication of the Year: NPR’s The SaltGreat daily read/listen from the folks at NPR. 

Podcast: Dan Pashman’s The Sporkful.



ICYMI over the weekend, this piece explores the Filipino tradition of balikbayan boxes, which are filled with gifts (including food) and sent to relatives overseas.

“Today balikbayan boxes, named after the Tagalog word for a returning Filipino, have become one of the most enduring symbols of the Filipino diaspora. The boxes help feed relatives who are struggling, console daughters separated from their mothers, and give far-flung overseas workers a tangible tether to their families.”

Frank Shyong for the Los Angeles TimesStunning.


Consumer Trend: Frozen Food Sales Drop 

Consumers may be opting for fresh versus frozen foods.

“Frozen food is a $53 billion a year business. That might sound like a lot, but it accounts for only about 6 percent of total grocery store sales. And frozen food sales have flattened or dropped by a percentage or so annually for the past few years.”

Why? Learn more in this interesting read/listen by Neda Ulaby for NPR Food.


What I’m Reading 

I’m often asked what I’m currently reading. I typically have a handful of books in progress at a time (a practice that drives my family nuts, because there are stacks of books in lots of places). Here are two stacks I’m working on.

Stack 1

Stack 1 features books written and/or recommended by authors/participants I’ll be learning from at a Rural Writing Institute that I’m attending in June. I’m rereading Silent Spring for the first time in decades. “The Living Mountain” by Nan Shepherd – an author I’d never heard of until last week – is one of the finest pieces of nature writing I’ve ever encountered. It’s spare, poetic and truly a masterpiece. It’s giving me a better sense of one of the places I’ll be visiting in June.


Stack 2

Stack 2 contains a couple of #GoodReads I’ve been dipping into repeatedly for research purposes (and writing inspiration) for a project I’m working on. They’re both absolutely incredible and I’ve been buying additional copies for gifts.


Have a great week!