California Foodways, the critically acclaimed public radio series by award-winning FERN contributor Lisa Morehouse, launched a podcast this week. In the series — which can be found at FERN and multiple podcast platforms — Morehouse travels county by county in California, exploring the intersection of food, culture, history, labor, economy, and environment.
The podcast includes a mix of new and previously aired stories, all chronicling Morehouse’s extensive reporting around the state. The first episode features the Mitla Cafe in San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles, which has had four generations of family ownership. It was a gathering point for civic action in the Mexican-American community, and its popular offerings inspired the Taco Bell restaurant empire.
“California’s story cannot be told without telling the story of its food,” says Morehouse. “And while the state is known for its incredible food production, culinary trends, and massive, $100 billion food industry, the more compelling story involves how California’s people, work, and land connect to food.”
Also this week, chef and television personality Spike Mendelsohn, along with Food Policy Action Executive Director Monica Mills, launched Plate of the Union — a podcast that will help “connect the dots between what politicians cook up in Congress and what we cook up at home.” The first episode features Chef José Andrés, who launched an unprecedented effort to feed the citizens of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and is active in other humanitarian efforts as well.
Mendelsohn said his goal was to have a “bipartisan conversation about food and have an effect on the current administration, for them to realize how important good food policy is in the nation,” according to USA Today.
Future episodes focus on SNAP, polling data around food issues, food as medicine, and other issues.