At Nopalito, if the local corn runs out, you might as well shut the doors. It’s typical for the restaurant’s two San Francisco locations to go through 200 pounds of California-grown organic masa in a single day. The grain is at the menu’s core, used in everything from tamales, to tortillas, to house-made chips.
In mid-September, Nopalito’s owner, Laurence Jossel, learned that Giusto’s, the Northern California grain processor and wholesaler from which Nopalito sources its flours, had run out of corn after severe drought conditions caused the product to dry up. “It’s been a mad scramble,” says Jossel. He and his head chef called restaurants all over the city, searching for a locally-grown equivalent, without luck. In a pinch, they settled on more expensive organic corn flour from Montana and some from as far as Mexico.
“We can’t run a restaurant based on [corn] without it,” says Jossel. With no end to the California drought in sight, chefs like Jossel, and many artisan food makers who rely on local food, are feeling the squeeze.
Finally, I can use the Elvis Costello song in context! Last Tuesday, I was a guest host on Less Rock, More Talk over at KWTF with The Lila Cugini and Your Old Pal Will.
On Friday 9/12, I was a guest on The People’s Voice on KBBF with host George Alfaro. We discussed the story I wrote for the North Bay Bohemian (as part of my USC health reporting fellowship project) about Roseland and health. George questioned me about how I became a writer and for words of advice to those just starting out. It was crazy to be on the other side of the mic. Usually, I’m the one asking the questions!
But go to a Zumba class at Roseland elementary and you’ll see the success stories. One woman’s depression is gone. Another has lower insulin levels. And many of the women have dropped a few pounds.
You’ll see that Alejandra Sarmiento has become a community leader. Recently, she was recruited for a five-day neighborhood leadership training class through St. Joseph’s. Sarmiento got a crash course in social justice, community organizing and outreach. She learned about the relationship between governmental policy and the health of communities and strategic planning. She’s excited to go to neighborhood stores as a Healthy Food Project representative, where, for a stipend, she’ll promote marketing and product-placement.
I wrote a 1700 word feature story for Made Local Magazine about the movement to (re) build a local grain economy in Sonoma County. I really enjoyed the process of researching and reporting this piece. The farmers in our community are doing amazing things!
Edited by the fantastic Gretchen Giles, you can find Made Local Magazine at Oliver’s Market, Pacific Market, Andy’s Produce, Copperfield’s Books, SHED in Healdsburg, and various other spots around town.
Simple and arresting, this is music for the end of the night, when the dancing slows and the party winds down, and whoever is left in the bar is forced, with the disappearance of those distractions, to wrestle with emotional darkness. Like the best songwriters before her (Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams come to mind) Muth writes about the underdogs: the mom who waits for her baby to go to sleep so she can have a well-earned drink, the wives of men who’ve disappeared down the road, and the thousands of regular folks staring out the window of a rundown house “dreaming of a life beyond these blues.”
The first installment of my two-part series on health improvement initiatives in Roseland, produced as a project for the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, (a program of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism) was published in the Bohemian on July 2:
More than one in three low-income children and almost half of low-income teens in Sonoma County are overweight or obese, according to 2007–09 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Obesity increases the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and heart disease in later life.
“A lot of writing about motherhood is still considered ‘mommy memoir’ or ‘mommy blogging’ and isn’t seen as serious memoir,” says Kovac. “Even the word ‘mother’ is so loaded. There are some in publishing that are just like, ‘We don’t want motherhood stories.’”
Kovac adds that whatever literary space there is for moms tends to be taken up by well-known writers like Anne Lamott and Ayelet Waldeman. The stigma has led to an ongoing conversation among the Write On Mamas about whether or not “Mamas” should stay in the name.