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By Eric Johnson
Published Apr 24, 2023

Image credit: Amanda Marsalis

Taste Spring! Free Cookbook + Alice Waters + more Cali Cuisine heroes.

Before we get into the (locally sourced, humanely raised) meat and (organic) potatoes of this week’s newsletter, I want to point out that further down on this page you will find a gift: Taste Spring! Sacramento Digs Gardening presents delicious seasonal recipes from your garden.

That’s right: a free online cookbook. Wherever you live, you are sure to find recipes that will make you and your family and friends happy. More on that later.

In this episode of The Newsletter, we celebrate food. The star of this week’s show is none other than Alice Waters, the Queen of California Cuisine.

Below, you will find an in-depth interview in which our own Graham Womack talks to Ms. Waters about her twin passions: feeding and educating all of us, especially children.

Alice and Graham also talk about the Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education, part of the $1.2 billion Aggie Square development—a collaboration between UC Davis and the City of Sacramento. And we offer further reading on that exciting project.

Speaking of California cuisine: My friend and colleague Sharan Street, who was a foodie before that word existed, decided it would be fun to surround Queen Alice with her Court—the men and women whose gastronomical innovations helped make the local fare of our fair state famous. There are 30 people on Sharan’s list. (!) Graham decided to briefly profile the top-ten old-school gourmets, including Pasadena’s own Julia Child.

As a proud resident of the farmtown that is the capital of California, I like to remind people that agriculture is still the biggest industry in the state that is home to Hollywood and Silicon Valley. 

As a person who studied organic agriculture at Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz in the 1970s, when that idea (cultivated by Alice Waters and a small army of Bay Area farmers and cooks) was still fresh, I am so psyched that the ag industry has shifted radically toward sustainability in my lifetime.

Maybe an even more significant export than our agricultural products is California culture, which includes the movement that has brought fresh, local, organic ingredients to restaurants nationwide. I invite you to dig in to some chapters of that ongoing story.


Local Food and the Education of our Senses

Chez Panisse reinvented the American restaurant. The Edible Schoolyard Project has expanded to 6,000-plus schools worldwide. Alice Waters talks here about the newest addition to her legacy.


Interview With Alice Waters

For many years, chef Alice Waters has taught young people about the importance of sustainable eating. Now she’s building a new place of learning in Sacramento.
The renowned Chez Panisse chef believes we’ve lost our connection to nature—and we’re afraid. She wants to help fix that.

Alice Waters at Aggie Square

Archtitectural rendering of the design for the Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education.
The Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education will serve as one of the anchor tenants for the $1.2 billion project in Sacramento.

Setting the Table


Before foodies and food porn came California cuisine. These 10 people helped create a movement that celebrated dishes that are local, seasonal and sustainable.

Delicious Seasonal Recipes from your Garden.

Debbie Arrington and Kathy Morrison, co-creators of the popular blog Sacramento Digs Gardening, have released their first cookbook right here on California Local. Taste Spring! Delicious seasonal recipes from your garden, contains 64 recipes for dishes that feature fresh produce available in backyards and farmers markets this time of year—appetizers, main dishes, soups & salads, breakfasts & desserts, and more. It’s free, breezy, and yes: tasty!


Taste Spring!

Nothing says spring like this pretty strawberry salad adorned with edible violets. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Delicious seasonal recipes from your garden.


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