Cal­i­for­nia grows one third of the veg­eta­bles pro­duced in the United States. It grows two-​thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts.

Last winter’s La Nina weather pat­tern in the Pacific left Cal­i­for­nia with less rain­fall and mois­ture than nor­mal or needed.

Many farm­ers saw the impend­ing water short­age and drought con­di­tions as good rea­son to opt out of plant­ing for the this sea­son.

The cur­rent drought is on pace to be one of the worst ever on record. Cal­i­for­nia, home to about 70,000 farms and ranches, with a com­bined AG pro­duc­tion of about $50 bil­lion a year, is suf­fer­ing severe con­se­quences.

The dairy indus­try accounts for the largest chunk of the state’s agri­cul­tural rev­enue, fol­lowed by almonds and then grapes.

The State Depart­ment of Water Resources and the Fed­eral Bureau of Recla­ma­tion, declared that “the Water Year 2021 is cur­rently the dri­est on record since 1977”.

Drought con­di­tions inten­sify long-​standing water allo­ca­tion con­flicts among farm­ers, munic­i­pal­i­ties and envi­ron­men­tal advo­cates. Even in years when the state has had good rain­fall and snow­pack lev­els, Cal­i­for­nia has never had enough water to sat­isfy all demands.

Cli­mate change has shifted rain pat­terns and increased tem­per­a­tures across the planet. Record-​setting tem­per­a­tures in June were an early start to a very long, hot summer.

Read more: High & Dry →

Din­ing alone can be daunt­ing if not intim­i­dat­ing. Not every per­son feels com­fort­able sit­ting at a restau­rant table by them­selves for an entire meal ser­vice.

Road war­riors were used to fend­ing for them­selves when work duty called. Busi­ness travel has not fully rebounded from the pan­demic. Sales peo­ple and oth­ers will hit the road again when the COVID dust is clear.

Fly­ing solo is not exclu­sive to the mobile work­force. Think of those liv­ing alone by choice or by cir­cum­stance. Per­haps a life part­ner has gone away for a short leisure or work trip. There are many rea­sons for din­ing out alone and none should pre­clude enjoy­ing a great meal in your own com­pany.

Eat­ing out alone does not mean that a per­son is lonely, with­out friends or at all unhappy. The social stigma attached to a being a soli­tary diner is what might pre­vent more brave souls to ven­ture out.

To expe­ri­ence things in one’s own unique way is empow­er­ing. Give your­self per­mis­sion to try that new neigh­bor­hood café or bistro on your own.

The notion of shar­ing meals with oth­ers is well sup­ported for the culi­nary acu­men and social engage­ment aspects. Those two fac­tors are not exclu­sive to group set­tings. As a soloist, one can engage with wait staff to fully embrace the menu, prepa­ra­tions and any spe­cial ingre­di­ents and sourc­ing tid­bits.

Sig­na­ture dishes are wor­thy of a sin­gle plate.

Read more: Table for One →

Pulp Fic­tion, the 1994 cult clas­sic by Quentin Taran­tino, ref­er­ences many iconic foods in the film.

The Burger Royale puts a Euro­pean twist on an all Amer­i­can favorite. The five dol­lar shake at Jack Rab­bit Slim’s makes movie-​goers won­der what that extrav­a­gant drink might taste like.

The cur­rent food sup­ply chain puts an end to guess­ing about what an expen­sive shake or burger might taste like. Menu prices are going up fast.

Con­sumers are cer­tainly spend­ing more for food. Costs for “take out”, din­ing in and prepar­ing meals at home have all increased post-​pandemic.

Lots of fac­tors account for the ris­ing costs. Those increases, not unlike with other indus­tries, are being passed on to patrons.

Toi­let paper and pasta short­ages were evi­dent six­teen months ago. At the start of national COVID-​19 out­breaks, the run at retail gro­cery stores led to pantry hoard­ing.

Today’s price hikes are real. The cost of every­thing from lum­ber to food to air­fares is climb­ing. Com­pa­nies report short­ages of prod­ucts, mate­ri­als, and work­ers. As the pan­demic wanes, we are left to grap­ple with long-​term sup­ply chain issues.

We see first-​hand the robust return and re-​opening of food­ser­vice. That’s great and wel­comed news for every­one. One down side is how busi­nesses are choos­ing to cope with new oper­a­tional challenges.

Read more: Burger Royale →

After a year or more of going nowhere, Amer­i­cans are on the move. Vac­ci­nated indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies are get­ting back to their des­ti­na­tion “bucket” lists.

Encour­aged to “play it safe” and see the United States, theme parks, hotels, camp­grounds, state and national parks are bustling with sum­mer tourists.

Inter­na­tional travel ambi­tions are com­pli­mented by rel­a­tively rea­son­able air fares and afford­able accom­mo­da­tions. Nearly every­one we know had to can­cel 2020 vaca­tion plans.

Rec­om­men­da­tions to travel safely are well announced. Coun­tries to avoid are well-​supported. Much of Europe is still off-​limits to Amer­i­cans. Croa­tia and var­i­ous other Balkan coun­tries, includ­ing Alba­nia, North Mace­do­nia, Ser­bia and Mon­tene­gro, are open.

North­ern lights in Ice­land are tempt­ing. Bali may be open but still may require mul­ti­ple days of quar­an­tine upon arrival. Cana­dian bor­ders are not fully allow­ing Amer­i­cans to freely cross. Greece is open for leisure Amer­i­can vis­i­tors. Ahh Greece.

Rea­sons for travel to for­eign places are often times per­sonal. The cul­ture, the peo­ple, the his­tory and geog­ra­phy play a role. So does build­ing life­long mem­o­ries with com­pan­ion trav­el­ers. The food of every cul­ture and within each coun­try tells a story cen­tral to the travel expe­ri­ences.

Greek cui­sine has been greatly influ­enced by both East­ern and West­ern cul­tures. Any num­ber of authen­ti­cally pre­pared Greek dishes reminds one of why we need to travel.

Read more: Greek with Envy →

Eat­ing in the morn­ing sets the tone for the rest of the day.

It makes sense then that mak­ing it a bal­anced meal with fiber – rich grains (foods made with both whole grains and enriched grains), lean pro­tein, and some fruit or veg­gies will keep the wolves away.

Stay­ing sat­is­fied by a good break­fast keeps us on track and avoid­ing that mid-​morning crash or energy slump.

The whole morn­ing break­fast rit­ual has come under scrutiny by those look­ing to shed a few pounds. Sure, inter­mit­tent fast­ing or stick­ing to a “cof­fee only” start reduces daily calo­ries. Skip­ping break­fast robs us of the oppor­tu­nity to nour­ish the body with essen­tial micronu­tri­ents.

Once we rise, the energy stores are depleted by as much as eighty per­cent. With­out food, a body begins to con­serve energy and actu­ally burn fewer calo­ries — slow­ing down metab­o­lism. Stud­ies show that break­fast skip­pers were nearly five times more likely to be obese than peo­ple who eat break­fast.

A high-​fiber, high-​protein break­fast may be the most impor­tant invest­ment made for improv­ing mood, waist­line and sta­mina.

Morn­ing fuel pos­si­bil­i­ties are a blank can­vas. Paint it with broad brush strokes for on the go oat­meal jars to pro­tein smoothies.

Read more: Rise & Dine! →

Two quin­tes­sen­tial foods that define sum­mer are water­melon and corn. By July fourth, both items are on house menus and in high demand.

Water­melon takes a back seat to noth­ing in the pro­duce win col­umn. For now, set it aside for a bit of corn amaze­ment.

On its own mer­its, a sin­gle but­tered ear of sweet corn is supremely sat­is­fy­ing. What we can do with these bright green husks and their sweet nuggets inside is noth­ing short of sur­pris­ing.

Don’t believe there is any­thing more to dis­cover about sweet corn? Have you made or tried corn ice cream? How about a savory whipped corn dip to upstage hum­mus with dip­ping veg­eta­bles?

Put on that corn apron and get busy with shrimp and corn chow­der or a lob­ster or crab boil with corn as a trusty side kick.

Nancy Silverton’s L.A. restau­rant Pizze­ria Mozza cel­e­brates fresh Cal­i­for­nia pro­duce. She serves an upgraded grilled cheese sand­wich filled with a charred sweet corn-​studded blend of nutty English-​cheddar and sharp cacio­cav­allo.

What­ever the cook­ing treat­ment, corn is like the unex­pected happy sur­prise to the main attrac­tion. Grilled corn plays so well with other fresh sum­mer items.

Read more: A-​MAIZ-​ING! →