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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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Get to Know a Group

Sierra Senior Services logo Sierra Senior Services

Serving the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee community, Sierra Senior Services is the saving grace of homebound hungry seniors, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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From Our Media Allies

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Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Snowboarding & Wrist Injuries

Snowboarding is one of Tahoe's greatest draws and thousands of snowboarders spend fun-filled days on its slopes each year. The sport offers excellent cardiovascular benefits, tones muscles, and burns calories, however, snowboarding is not without risk, especially when learning or …

Auburn Journal logo Placer County Approves Solar Panel Project

In their February 27th meeting, the Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a 1,170-acre solar panel facility that will provide power to Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) customers in west Placer County.

Auburn Journal logo Auburn Cuts Greenhouse Gas Emissions Almost in Half

At the February 26 Auburn City Council meeting, Sustainability Committee member Roke Whitson reported that a greenhouse gas inventory recently revealed the city of Auburn has cut its emissions almost in half over the past 17 years.

Folsom Times logo Former Folsom Cliff House to Become Crawdads on the Lake

It’s been the common question around town the last few weeks: “What is happening with the former Cliff House of Folsom?”  Here’s what the future looks like for the longtime restaurant venue.

Sierra Sun logo Supervisors Act on Block Grant, Short-term Rentals, SNOW Sports Museum

The Placer County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and discussed the closeout of the Community Development Block Grant-Coronavirus, short-term vacation rentals ordinance, and the SNOW Sports Museum and Community Cultural Center.

Auburn Journal logo Placer County Supervisors Approve Pay Raise

In their February 27th meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted themselves a 21% pay raise.

Auburn Journal logo Auburn Names New Fire Chief, Finance Director

After serving as interim fire chief since September, the city officially named John Rogers fire chief this month as his family, friends and co-workers cheered him on.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Ski California Expands Safety Education Efforts With New ‘Deep Snow Safety’ Video

Ski California is expanding its Mountain Safety Guide with a new video created to educate skiers and riders about the risks of deep snow immersion.

Folsom Times logo Construction at East Bidwell, Iron Point Road to Begin

The City of Folsom is set to begin a project to improve traffic flow at the Iron Point Road and East Bidwell Street intersection.

Sierra Sun logo Nevada County Supervisors Recognize Truckee Business Owner

Truckee resident Bill Greeno recently received a commendation from the Nevada County Board of Supervisors for his service on the Nevada County Planning Commission. Hardy Bullock commenced the acknowledgment by lauding Greeno's noteworthy contributions.

Sierra Sun logo Placer County Supes Underline Importance of Grand Jury Service

The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation establishing February 2024 as Grand Jury Awareness Month.

Folsom Times logo Folsom Veteran Crafts Wooden Flags With Patriotic Passion

A Folsom veteran has found a way to share his woodworking talents and love for his country in a venture that has turned into local business that he hopes will improve his own family’s future.

Folsom Times logo New Folsom Apple Bagels Opens Its Doors

After finding success with an El Dorado Hills location, a local couple has expanded their bagel baking business to Folsom.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Mixed-Use Standards Designed to Reduce Gas Emissions

“The idea is that placing these services and residences nearby reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by reducing dependence on vehicles.”

Sierra Sun logo Incumbent Jim Holmes Known for Tradition of Public Service

Jim Holmes, who was elected to Placer County's Board of Supervisors in 2004, is serving his fifth term as District 3 supervisor. But because of 2020 redistricting, he is running for reelection in District 5.

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Recent Local News

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• County Facing Upcoming Budget 'Challenges'

El Dorado County’s 2023-24 mid-year budget report projects the midyear General Fund balance will be just under $17 million, down from the previous year’s $25.9 million

(03/04/2024) → Mountain Democrat

• Broadway Improvements in the Making

Placerville's Broadway corridor will see increased private development and public projects ion upcoming months.

(03/01/2024) → Mountain Democrat

• EDHCSD Hires New Legal Council

The El Dorado Hills Community Service District has replaced its general counsel following criticism by two commissioners and members of the public.

(03/01/2024) → Village Life

• EDHCSD Commissioners Subject of Complaints, Public Record Requests

At a recent board meeting, Directors Ferry and Hannaman reported they were the subjects of several anonymous complaints and two public records requests. Director Hannaman also claimed a lack of support from the District legal counsel.

(03/01/2024) → Village Life

• EPA Announces New Superfund Cleanup Projects in California

Part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the projects include California’s Lava Cap Mine in Nevada City, Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine in Clearlake Oaks, and Southern Avenue Industrial Area in South Gate.

(02/27/2024) → YubaNet

• Cameron Meadows: Development Opponents Show Up En Masse

The Cameron Park Community Services District Assembly Hall was filled past capacity at a public scoping meeting regarding a controversial development planned for land around Rasmussen Pond.

(02/26/2024) → Village Life

• Loomis Soroptimists Announce Education Awards

Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin recently named the recipients of $13,000 in education awards.

(02/26/2024) → Roseville Today
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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 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 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 United States seal. United States   (02/28/2024)

M&P Production LTD Recalls Raw Lamb and Beef Samsa Products Due to Misbranding and an Undeclared Allergen

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2024 - M&P Production LTD, a Brooklyn, N.Y. establishment, is recalling approximately 669 pounds of raw lamb and beef samsa products due to misbranding and an undeclared...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/28/2024)

Electric City Sweets Issues Allergy Alert On Undeclared Milk in Electric City Sweet 1.75oz Red Velvet Milk Chocolate Bars

Electric City Sweets of Scranton, PA is recalling 1,644 Red Velvet Milk Chocolate Bars, due to undeclared milk in the ingredient statement and allergen statement. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume th
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/27/2024)

FSIS Issues Public Health Alert for Nurture Life Ready-To-Eat Chicken Meal Product Due to Misbranding and an Undeclared Allergen

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2024 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert for Nurture Life's Chicken Parm with Super Veggie...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/26/2024)

Roland Foods, LLC Recalls Roland® Tahini (100% Ground Sesame Seeds) 16 Oz. Because of Possible Health Risk

Roland Foods, LLC ("Roland Foods") of New York, New York is recalling a specific production code of Roland Tahini (100% Ground Sesame Seeds) 16 oz. because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children,
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/23/2024)

G.A. Mart Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of H&NATURAL TejoRoot and H&NATURAL Brazil Seed Dietary Supplements Due to the Presence of Yellow Oleander (Thevetia peruviana), a Poisonous Plant Native to Mexico and Central America

February 22, 2024 - San Luis, AZ, G.A. Mart dba H&Natural, is voluntarily recalling 2 lots of H&NATURAL TejoRoot, 10g pills and 2 lots of H&NATURAL Brazil Seed, .167g Seeds to the consumer level. The products have been found via random FDA testing to contain yellow oleander, a poisonous plant native
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/22/2024)

Backstage Center is Issuing a Recall of Approximately 280 Bottles of Alipotec Raiz de Tejocote, Dietary Supplements, that are Labeled with the "Alipotec King" Sticker

Backstage Center is issuing a recall of approximately 280 Bottles of Alipotec Raiz de Tejocote, dietary supplements, that are labeled with the "Alipotec King" sticker. This recall is being initiated because FDA analysis found that the product contains toxic yellow oleander. The recalled product, whi
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/22/2024)

LQNN, Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Egg in Banh Ba Xa and Banh Pia Products

LQNN Inc., of Garden Grove, California, is voluntarily recalling Banh Ba Xa and varieties of Banh Pia because they may contain undeclared egg. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. The af