The Sum­mer of Love was a social phe­nom­e­non that occurred dur­ing the sum­mer of 1967. As many as 100,000 peo­ple, con­verged in San Francisco’s Haight-​Ashbury dis­trict.

Tie-​dyed cloth­ing, love beads, men with long hair and a mantra of “free love” char­ac­ter­ized the coun­ter­cul­ture hip­pie groups that flocked to the city. A swirl of art, pol­i­tics, music and rev­o­lu­tion was in the air in 1967.

Among other notable shifts in tra­di­tions, this was the period in time that influ­enced our cul­ture in the food move­ment and pol­i­tics toward nat­ural, organic and veg­e­tar­ian diets in Amer­ica.

The pol­i­tics of food remain cen­tral to those con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing in Cal­i­for­nia regard­ing organic farm­ing, sus­tain­abil­ity, improv­ing child­hood nutri­tion and the obe­sity epi­demic.

Present day activism rises from the national trend toward local, sus­tain­able and con­scious eat­ing. Con­sumers want to know what they’re eat­ing, where it comes from and how it is pro­duced.

Lucky for us then that locally grown actu­ally means we’re able to enjoy mel­ons, stone fruits, sweet corn, beans, pep­pers, toma­toes and pota­toes that are actu­ally grown and har­vested close by.

Read more: “Sum­mer of Love“ →

A rene­gade herb that will hap­pily take over any untended gar­den bed, mint is a sta­ple of sum­mer eats and drinks.

Look­ing to exact a sense of culi­nary cool, calm, sweet or fresh­ness? Mint is indis­pens­able and with­out sub­sti­tute.

The entic­ing aro­matic gets its scent from the oil in the leaf, men­thol.

A wide vari­ety of mint plants exists, ready for use in the kitchen. The two most com­mon are prob­a­bly pep­per­mint and spearmint and the more rare curly leaf, pineap­ple and gin­ger mint.

Get to know the nuanced dif­fer­ences so appli­ca­tions into sal­ads, starters, sides, entrees, drinks, cock­tails and desserts are best suited to spe­cific fla­vor pro­files.

A few top mints to get to know: Spearmint. Most com­monly used in cook­ing for many noto­ri­ous mint recipes, includ­ing lamb, spring rolls, veg­eta­bles (like peas, car­rots, pota­toes, beans and cucum­bers), tabouli salad and favorite sum­mer cock­tails like moji­tos and mint juleps.

Read more: Mint Takeover →

Dads have that rep­u­ta­tion for being “super-​heroes”. That does not mean they have to eat like Super­man, right?

Dads are just reg­u­lar peo­ple look­ing to stay fit and healthy for their fam­i­lies. They do like to eat, drink and be merry when the oppor­tu­nity strikes.

Upcom­ing Father’s Day is a per­fect chance to share good food with the fathers in our lives. Like most hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, the ways we make merry are diverse and unique.

Every­day dad food does not trans­late into “cheese, bacon and burg­ers”. Tra­di­tional fare from days long past was largely meat and pota­toes basics for Dads. Maybe for most con­ven­tional men, that would still be typ­i­cal.

New dude foods, pre­pared by using the fresh­est ingre­di­ents, strike a cord with those favorite fam­ily tra­di­tions and deliver full of fla­vor on the plate.

By exam­ple, Pops might like a nice ravi­oli with red sauce, skil­let chi­laquiles or mar­i­nated skirt steak on Father’s Day. Cook­ing at home can be a group effort. “No fuss” should be the mantra of the day, but if a lit­tle extra effort is made, we’re good!

Read more: Dad Food →

A plant-​based diet can boost opti­mum health, decreas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease, Type 2 dia­betes, and cer­tain can­cers.

The main advan­tages with a plant-​based diet seem to be related more to the foods con­sumed (eat­ing plenty of veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts) rather than those foods avoided (pri­mar­ily meats).

Stay­ing at a healthy weight is eas­ier on a plant-​based diet and menu. A “less meat, more plants” style of eat­ing can improve qual­ity of life.

Asso­ci­ated ben­e­fits include the reduc­tion of inflam­ma­tion and dis­eases attrib­uted to inflam­ma­tion. Lower cho­les­terol and blood pres­sure lev­els are oth­ers plus ups seen with plant-​based food choices.

There are many dif­fer­ent types of plant-​based diets. The three most com­mon ones are: Vegan: No ani­mal prod­ucts such as meat, eggs, or dairy prod­ucts. Lacto-​vegetarian: No meat or eggs, but dairy prod­ucts are accept­able. Lacto-​Ovo-​vegetarian: No meat is con­sumed, but dairy prod­ucts and eggs are allowed.

Read more: Fork “Over” Knife →

Memo­r­ial Day and week­end are focused on cel­e­bra­tion and remem­brance for those who’ve made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice. We honor those who’ve died while serv­ing this great nation.

Invari­ably, the week­end also ends up being the unof­fi­cial start of sum­mer. Vaca­tion travel, pic­nics, camp­ing, bar­be­cues and patio par­ties bring fam­i­lies and friends together.

Lucky for us all then that with warm weather trend­ing, sum­mer berries are com­ing into peak play. Cal­i­for­nia grow­ing regions are now har­vest­ing sen­sa­tional blue­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, boy­sen­ber­ries and black­ber­ries.

Multi-​dimensional, berries add that burst of color and fla­vor zing, just where expected. Plan­ning for break­fast, smooth­ies, sal­ads or sum­mer desserts? Berries are a knock­out for pre­sen­ta­tion and get an A+ for taste.

Straw­ber­ries always seem to top the list for favorite fruits. Blue­ber­ries are inch­ing up with kids and those adults who like to power up with super foods.

The antiox­i­dants in berries just seem to be an added bonus. We eat them because we love them. The fact that they are a health­ier alter­na­tive to other pos­si­ble warm weather treats makes them all the more desirable.

Read more: Red, White & Blue →

Pub­lic health offi­cials esti­mate that nearly 48 mil­lion peo­ple are sick­ened each year by food that has been con­t­a­m­i­nated with harm­ful bac­te­ria.

Most peo­ple are aware that ani­mal prod­ucts must be han­dled care­fully to pre­vent ill­ness. Many need a reminder that fresh pro­duce can also be the cul­prit in out­breaks of food­borne ill­ness.

Out­breaks can be large, wide­spread or local­ized. In recent years, let­tuce, spinach, green onions and toma­toes have been the source of food ill­nesses.

As our fresh pro­duce con­sump­tion trends up in sum­mer months. Now is a good time for a refresh on prac­tices and pro­to­cols on safe food han­dling.

Fresh pro­duce can become con­t­a­m­i­nated in many ways. Dur­ing the grow­ing phase, fruits and veg­gies may be con­t­a­m­i­nated by ani­mals, harm­ful sub­stances in the soil or water, and by poor hygiene among work­ers. After pro­duce is har­vested, it passes through many hands, increas­ing con­t­a­m­i­na­tion risks.

Read more: All Washed Up! →