In Search of the ‘Tomato King’

Finding a Mexican Migrant Politician, Rooted in California Soil

There is only one person more obsessed than I when it comes to the memory of Don Andrés Bermúdez: his son, Andrés Junior. Junior lives with his family in the place where he came of age, a spacious ranch home his father acquired in 1993, on the outskirts of Winters, California, in the western Sacramento Valley.

In a nod to his Catholic upbringing, Junior crosses himself when he passes the town cemetery, where his father is buried. He bought the burial plot adjacent to his father’s, so that he can be …

What’s the Cost of a Family Secret?

A California Writer on the Aunt He Never Knew He Had—and the Lessons She Taught Him

Is there a family trait more common than keeping secrets?

These secrets can have hidden costs. When we leave a place or person behind, we don’t know what becomes of them. …

Where I Go: My Teacher, the Tomato

How This Beautiful Plant and Its Magic Fruit Guides a Professional Chef in the Kitchen, and in Life

Food can connect us to the earth, our community, and ourselves. But first, we need to open a space to listen to and be in exchange with the ingredients.

As a …

Bread and Conflict in Ukraine | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Bread and Conflict in Ukraine

The Central Role of Wheat in War Determines Whether Nations Starve or Survive

Russia and Ukraine control about 11.2 percent of the world’s arable land, and supply 28 percent of its exported wheat. A substantial portion the world’s most fertile wheatfields lie along …

California Needs an Agricultural Revolution

From the Ojai Valley, I Can See the State’s Post-Carbon Future—And It Looks Like the Ancient Past

The Ojai Valley in Ventura County is a magical place. Consider its elements: the sweet and intoxicating smell of California citrus blossoms in the spring, the open space preserved by …

Why Ewe Eat Lamb on Holidays (but Not the Rest of the Year) | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Ewe Eat Lamb on Holidays (but Not the Rest of the Year)

A Brief History of Sheep On—but Mostly off—the American Table

The United States doesn’t eat much sheep. In 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Americans consumed less than one pound of lamb or mutton (the …