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By Eric Johnson
Published Mar 04, 2024

The Swanton Berry Farm, on Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz, became California's first organic commercial strawberry farm when it was launched in 1983. The Swanton Berry Farm, on Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz, became California's first organic commercial strawberry farm when it was launched in 1983.

Food—Fast, Slow and Plenty

We're sending you three food-related articles in this week's edition of The Newsletter, counting the Recipe of the Week, which we started including here a few months ago with little fanfare. I haven't tried this week's yet, but I did make last week's Easy Asparagus-Mushroom Bake with Eggs and Cheese (and mushrooms and onions). Like many Californians, I had just picked up a bunch of the season's first local asparagus, and this simple dish was the perfect way to enjoy it.

At the farmers market today we got some more asparagus—it'll be on our table once or twice a week for a while. Also found some beautiful shallots, leeks, celery, cauliflower, and multicolored chard. Food shopping and cooking are two of my favorite hobbies (if we can call such basic human activities hobbies), and here in California, with our abundance of local ingredients, it's easy to develop these ordinary activities into a kind of art form.

I was fortunate to be living in Santa Cruz in the 1970s when it was a birthplace of the organics movement. For fun, I took a horticulture class at Cabrillo College from the great Richard Merill, author of the groundbreaking book Radical Agriculture.  Meanwhile up at UCSC, Alan Chadwick's garden and the farm now known as the Center for Agroecology were the first such projects at any university in the United States. These ideas were pretty revolutionary back then, and I'm psyched that so many Americans now seek out chemical-free, sustainably produced food. I believe it's one of the most important choices we can make for our own health and that of the planet.

That's not to say that I don't enjoy an In-N-Out cheeseburger, animal style, once in a while. Fast food is a rare treat in my family, determined by necessity but savored when the time is right. In fact on a road trip a couple weeks ago down I-5, where the only available nourishment is fast food, I had my first Taco Bell taco in a long while, followed by a bean-and-cheese burrito, and they were sublime. It caused me to remember that when I had my first taste of Taco Bell after moving to San Jose from New Jersey, having never before encountered a taco or a burrito, it reinforced the notion that I really had found my home at last.  

Yes: From organic farming to Taco Bell, from the McDonald brothers to Alice Waters, California is a world leader in culinary innovation. And the most important export from the Golden State, home to both Silicon Valley and Hollywood, may be food. Read on.

The Birth of the Fast Food Industry in the State that Feeds America

Fast food workers in California will soon earn a minimum of $20 an hour, thanks to a new state law. To celebrate, we take a look at the chains that got their start in the Golden State—and other ways we lead the way in food production.

Beyond the Burger

The city of Downey is home to the oldest McDonald’s restaurant still in operation.
McDonald’s might be the biggest fast-food chain to get cooking in California, but many others have followed, serving up hot dogs, tacos, and more.

How California Feeds the Country

They help feed the whole country, but life for California’s farm workers remains a struggle.
California stands as America’s agricultural powerhouse, growing half of its fruits and vegetables. Here’s how California farming has shaped the state, from the early missions to today’s “factories in the field.”

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Winter! cookbook.

Whole-orange loaf cake brightens a grey morning

Poppy seeds and orange zest add visual interest  to this moist orange loaf cake.
Recipe: Poppy seeds add texture to vegan snack cake

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From Our Media Allies

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Salinas Valley Tribune logo New Multi-Specialty Health Clinic Opens in Gonzales

The grand opening of Ocean Breeze Multi Specialty Clinic at 132 Alta St. took place last Friday afternoon in Gonzales and will provide access to the underserved and agricultural populations.

Monterey County Weekly logo Internet Provider Gets $5.6M Grant to Boost Regional Broadband Infrastructure

Cruzio, a Santa Cruz-based internet service provider recently received a $5.6 million state grant to bolster broadband services in rural areas of Monterey County and elsewhere.

Monterey County Weekly logo Monterey City Manager Details Need for City Facility Upgrades

Many key city facilities – a lot of them built in the 1950s – are either in need of replacement or complete overhaul, including the Library and Police and Fire headquarters.

Monterey County Weekly logo Monaco Based DeveloperAcquires More Village Properties

Developer Patrice Pastor of Monaco has acquired a hefty portfolio of properties in the tiny village of Carmel, beginning with the purchase of a home in 2015, growing to at least 16 properties totaling nearly $124 million.

Monterey County Weekly logo Cal Am Files Legal Response in Public Buyout Case

The company is asking a judge to dismiss the water district's eminent domain takeover, arguing that "the district is not legally authorized to provide retail potable water service."

Monterey County Weekly logo Board of Supervisors Unanimously Approves Financial Aid Program for Pajaro

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Pajaro Unmet Needs Disaster Assistance Program that will provide financial assistance to individuals, households and business owners that were affected by the March 2023 flooding in the …

King City Rustler logo Alliance on Aging’s 2024 Trashion Show in King City Transforms Waste into Wearable Art

Alliance on Aging’s 2024 Trashion Show in King City was a groundbreaking success, captivating more than 300 attendees with its innovative approach to transforming waste into wearable art.

Monterey County Weekly logo Paris Bakery Sold, But New Owner Plans Few Changes

Paris Bakery is under new ownership, but regulars may not notice a difference.

Monterey County Weekly logo Caltrans Eyes March 8 Opening for Part of Highway 1 in Big Sur

Caltrans hopes to reopen one section of Highway 1 on March 8. But when the rest of the highway will be cleared remains unknown as crews deal with other rockslides.

King City Rustler logo Interim Inc. Opens New Location in South Monterey County

Interim Inc., a nonprofit mental health agency, will host an open house to acquaint the South Monterey County community with its new location and services available in Soledad.

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Recent Local News

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• Fishing Closures Considered to Protect Deep-sea Habitats

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is considering closure of deep-sea coral restoration and research sites to fishing to protect habitats from bottom fishing gear in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

(03/03/2024) → Monterey Herald

• Jennifer McAdams seated on Marina Council

Marina City Council members voted for Jennifer McAdams to fill the vacant seat which was held by former council member Cristina Medina Dirksen who resigned in January to take a job with Kaiser Permanente.

(02/29/2024) → Monterey Herald

• Monterey County Transitions to New Emergency Alert System in March

Those signed up for alerts with the current system will be transitioned to the new system as part of the process. Officials note integration with County GIS map platform as key benefit of new system.

(02/29/2024) → Monterey Herald

• Students Rally Against Tuition Increase

Dozens of students and faculty from California State University, Monterey Bay participated in a CSU-wide walkout to protest the recent CSU Board of Trustees decision to raise student tuition.

(02/28/2024) → The Lutrinae

• Western Flyer Foundation Releases New Video

Foundation debuts a new informational video about the Western Flyer boat, narrated by actor and comedian Nick Offerman, about the history of the 83-year old fishing vessel featured in John Steinbeck's “The Log from the Sea of Cortez.” View the full video at

(02/27/2024) → Monterey Herald

• Joby Aviation Advances Closer to FAA Certification

Joby Aviation completed three of five stages of the Federal Aviation Administration process in its quest to produce the first certified all-electric commercial aircraft.

(02/27/2024) → Monterey Herald
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Recent Statewide News

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• California is Seeing a Historic Rise in the Number of Black Women Running for Office

At least 24 Black women are running for seats in the California Legislature this year, resulting from years of work cultivating new leaders and growing confidence among voters.

(03/04/2024) → CalMatters

• California Schools Gained Billions During COVID-19. Now the Money is Running Out

California schools got $23.4 billion in federal pandemic relief money. Low-income schools that got the most may be hardest hit when the funds expire this year.

(03/04/2024) → CalMatters

• California’s Fast Food Workers are Getting a Raise. But the Labor-Industry Truce is Fraying

Republicans want to scrap the law, accusing Gov. Gavin Newsom of corruption in dealings with a Panera Bread franchisee who is a major campaign donor. McDonald’s franchisees are funding a committee that is attacking Democrats who supported the law and are seeking local office in the primary.

(03/03/2024) → CalMatters

• Two Rare Tornadoes Seen in Central California

A tornado stuck Kings county briefly, and another touched down in Madera county, as favorable conditions came together during a powerful winter storm which swept the region.

(03/02/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Waymo Approved to Start Robotaxi Service in Los Angeles and San Mateo Counties.

On March 1, the California Public Utilities Commission gave approval for driverless taxi company Waymo to expand service into Los Angeles and San Mateo counties.

(03/01/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Study Finds Almost 50% of San Francisco Drug Users Not Residents

A report of a 12 month study which ended in February indicates almost half of those cited for drug usage were not residents of the city, leading to questions about city approaches to drug addiction.

(03/01/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Wildfires Are Killing California’s Ancient Giants. Can Seedlings Save the Species?

Ecologists estimate that up to 14,000 sequoias have been killed in recent wildfires. The National Park Service for the first time has begun replanting some severely burned areas.

(02/26/2024) → CapPublicRadio

• Will CA Voters Like ‘Newsom Recall, the Sequel’ Any Better?

Conservative activists who worked on the failed recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021 have launched another attempt, arguing that conditions in California only worsened in the two-and-a-half years since then as Newsom’s attention shifted to national politics.

(02/26/2024) → CalMatters

• Meet Some of the Biggest Donors Shaping California's U.S. Senate Race

Here are the biggest donors in the 2024 California Senate race, both for and against the top candidates: Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, Steve Garvey and Barbara Lee.

(02/26/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• What California College Students Think About Online Classes

EdSource asked students at California colleges and universities why they are choosing between online or in-person options.

(02/26/2024) → EdSource

• What California Voters Want to Know About the 2024 Election

Voting in California can be complicated. Here are answers to some common questions, plus what the leading U.S. Senate candidates say they would do if they’re elected.

(02/26/2024) → CalMatters
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Government Announcements

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Image of City of Monterey seal. City of Monterey   (03/04/2024)

Monterey Police Department's main lobby will close from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Wednesday March 6, 2024

Image of United States seal. United States   (03/02/2024)

CJ Foods Manufacturing Beaumont Corporation Recalls Trader Joe's Chicken Soup Dumplings Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2024 - CJ Foods Manufacturing Beaumont Corporation, a Beaumont, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 61,839 pounds of steamed chicken soup dumpling products that may be contaminated with...
Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (02/29/2024)

City of Marina City Council Appoints Jenny McAdams to Fill District 3 Vacancy

Image of City of Seaside seal. City of Seaside   (02/29/2024)

Seaside Stars Unveiling

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, City of Seaside will hose the unveiling of the NEW Seaside Stars on Broadway Ave. The Event will take places 12:30Pm - 3:00PM.
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/29/2024)

MF Meats Recalls Raw Meat Products Due to Contamination by a Non-Food Grade Substance

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2024 - MF Meats, a Falconer, N.Y. establishment, is recalling approximately 93,277 pounds of raw meat products, which may have been contaminated with non-food grade mineral seal...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/28/2024)

Aji Mori Sauce Corp. DBA Sushi Koo Issues Voluntary Recall of Chillimami Sauce

Aji Mori Sauce Corp. DBA Sushi Koo of Los Angeles, CA, is voluntarily recalling its CHILLIMAMI SAUCE because product was manufactured and distributed without the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Cannery Program oversight, making them just susceptible to contamination with Clostridium bo
Image of City of Greenfield seal. City of Greenfield   (02/28/2024)

Planning Commission Meeting Update

Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (02/28/2024)

Marina General Plan Update - EIR Notice of Preparation Now Available!

Marina General Plan Update - EIR Notice of Preparation Now Available!
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (02/28/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Introduces Education Accessibility Bills

Addis Introduces Education Accessibility Bills sanchema Wed, 02/28/2024 - 09:03 Saturday, February 10, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Addis (D-Morro Bay) introduced a set of bills aimed at lowering barriers to education for students with disabilities in early learning and TK-12 education. "As Chair of the Select Committee on Serving Students with Disabilities, I am committed to making California's education system effective, …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (02/28/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Bill Aims to Bolster Emergency Preparedness

Addis Bill Aims to Bolster Emergency Preparedness sanchema Wed, 02/28/2024 - 08:57 Friday, February 2, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) introduced a bill that will require mobilehome parks to have more comprehensive preparedness plans to protect vulnerable Californians during emergencies. Assembly Bill 2022, known as the Mobilehome Emergency Preparedness Act, additionally requires mobilehome parks to make this information …