Mark Bittman: California Matters

What happens when a renowned New York food writer comes to California to soak in the Golden State’s agricultural and food scene? Find out in Mark Bittman: California Matters, a new 10-part series produced by the University of California and the Berkeley Food Institute. The first episode premieres on June 8th, 2015. Each episode will appear below as they are released.

Episode 9: The Changing Faces of California Agriculture

California’s Central Valley is home to the nation’s largest Hmong farming community. Mark meets with UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Sowerwine, who studies the cultural and ethnic dimensions of food security among Hmong farmers. Together, they discuss the challenges facing these micro-farmers, and pick up produce at a Hmong stall at the Berkeley Farmers Market.

Episode 8: A Watchful Eye on Farm Families’ Health

Venture out into the fields of Salinas with Mark Bittman as he interviews UC Berkeley’s Brenda Eskenazi. She leads the CHAMACOS study, which follows children born between 2000-2002 and assesses the impact of pesticides and other environmental chemicals (like flame retardants) on their long-term health.

Episode 7: The Roots of Organic Farming on Campus

Mark Bittman learns about an innovative apprenticeship program that is aiming to improve the way we eat, farm and garden.

Episode 6: Serving Up School Lunches of Tomorrow

Go back to school with Mark Bittman and BFI Affiliated Faculty Kristine Madsen in San Francisco and step into a school cafeteria that’s piloting a new initiative that aims to engage kids to eat more healthful meals.

Episode 5: What’s the Buzz about Wild Bees?

Hang out with Mark Bittman at the organic Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA. UC Berkeley’s Claire Kremen, a conservation biologist and faculty co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute, is an expert in pollination and diversified farming techniques. As they survey the scenic farm, Claire explains why it’s important to use native pollinators for crops.

Episode 4: Looking Behind the Kitchen Door

Sit down with Mark Bittman as he brunches with UC Berkeley’s Saru Jayaraman to discuss her pioneering work with labor justice and the ongoing movement for change in the national restaurant industry.

Episode 3: What Oysters Reveal about Sea Change

Head out with ​M​ark Bittman as he braves the elements and cruises along the waters off of Marshall, CA. There, UC Davis researchers are helping local food producers like Hog Island.

 Episode 2: Chop Suey’s Next Wave

Take a tour with Mark Bittman through the history of Chinese-American cuisine with his guide, UC Irvine’s Yong Chen, author of Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America. 

Episode 1: Take a Walk on the Wild (Edibles) Side

Follow Mark Bittman as he takes a walk on the wild side with two UC Berkeley researchers as they pick and taste edible weeds from the streets of Oakland. By collecting data on their interactive website, Philip Stark and Tom Carlson want to boost awareness about urban foraging and the nutritional value of wild edibles found throughout neighborhoods in the East Bay. Mark also chats with Bob Cannard, a trailblazing farmer who teaches students, aspiring farmers and gardeners how to cultivate weeds by building up good soil and shares his bounty with restaurants like Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

Coming Soon on California Matters

Check out the official trailer for California Matters, a new series hosted by New York Times writer Mark Bittman, which explores University of California food and agriculture research. Premieres June 8th, 2015. Join Bittman as he hits the road, traveling from oyster farms off the Northern California coast to Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles to immigrant farmers in the Central Valley.