For California Foodways, reporter Lisa Morehouse spends a lot of time in her car. She’s on a kind of mission: to travel to every county in the state, finding stories about food, agriculture, and -- most importantly -- the people that make both possible.
Sikh Festival Reminder of Century-Old Farming History
Last month a parade drew over 80,000 people to the Sacramento Valley. Before any floats passed, people in colorful clothing and turbans sprinkled water on the street and swept the concrete, cleansing the route. They were celebrating a holiday of the Sikh faith: the 500-year old religion from India's Punjab region. This gathering in Yuba City is the largest of its kind in the U.S., because Sikhs have lived in this farming community for over 100 years.
In a normal year, this would be a very busy time in Sutter County. November’s when 80,000 people come to Yuba City in the Sacramento Valley to celebrate a holiday of the Sikh faith. That’s the 500-year-old religion from India’s Punjab region. This gathering is the largest of its kind in the U.S. because Sikhs have lived in this farming community for over a century. Because of the corona virus, the celebration’s off this year, but I’ll take you back to 2016 when I stood on the parade route, watching people in colorful clothing and turbans sprinkling water on the street and sweeping the concrete before the parade began.
There are plenty of people who -- in order to pursue their passions -- have jobs on the side to support themselves. It’s pretty common to hear about a novelist who does PR, an actor waiting tables. But a rancher? For this story we meet a mother and daughter in Sierra County whose supplemental work has helped keep the family in the beef business.
The Abbey of New Clairvaux: Wine in the Wilderness
The soil in Tehama County is unfit, and the temperatures are all wrong, but the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux are still trying to make wine here. It’s part of their ancestry. Cistercian monks have made wine in Europe since the 12th century. In California, they’re turning to those traditions to try to survive in the 21st. The monks of New Clairvaux have a website, a Facebook page, a PR guy. They host wine release parties. I went up to Tehama County to meet the monks who engage with the outside world all so they can pray in peace.
Gold Rush Status Meal -- The Hangtown Fry
If you want to recreate the Gold Rush experience — without all the terrible conditions — you can pan for gold, even descend into mines. In a few places, you can even eat the most prized meal of the Gold Rush, with a kind of bizarre combination of ingredients. That’s what I went off to El Dorado County in search of the Hangtown Fry.
Legalizing Cannabis Impacts Food and Farming
When cannabis was 100% illegal, the price per pound was high. Since 2016, when Californians passed Prop 64 legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, the economy in the northern part of the state has been in limbo, impacting far more than the cannabis industry.
Coffee Farms? In California?
The most commonly traded commodity in the world is oil. What comes in second? Coffee! It’s been grown and loved since at least the 13th century in places like Indonesia, Ethiopia and Central and South America. As a serious fungus threatens the crop world-wide, scientists are mapping the coffee genome to learn more about this plant. But what role does our state play in the future of this most beloved and lucrative crop?
Love Lisa and this amazing podcast, makes me want to take a road trip and visit all these places!
Despite my passion for local food and agriculture, I found so much to learn about - and savor! - in Lisa’s podcast. More, please!
It's finally here!
I've been listening to these stories on The California Report for years and I'm so glad I can finally subscribe and listen as a podcast! These stories are a like hidden gems of California history and culture.