I'm a Bay Area journalist and associate editor for Edible East Bay magazine. My topics range from food justice and urban farming to housing, health, and education. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s been happening around the East Bay?
By Rachel Trachten | Photos by Rachel Stanich
In March when everything shut down, school and community gardens were in full spring swing. Neighbors walking past the gardens noticed pea vines curling up behind locked gates and wondered what would become of the food, and what would become of garden-based education. Here’s what we learned from some organizations we spoke with.
It’s been 25 years since Alice Waters launched the idea of ...
Oakland’s Renewal Mill spins out new upcycled foods
By Rachel Trachten
The process of upcycling works its magic in two ways: first, it makes use of something that would otherwise be wasted, and second, it transforms that item into something of higher quality.
The idea of making a valuable upcycled product was percolating for Claire Schlemme back in 2012–2014 when she was in Boston running an organic juice company called Mother Juice. Schlemme was concerned about the issue of food waste and fr...
Jumping Through Hoops
How a psychologist/activist built a farm
for the community on Contra Costa
County Sanitary District land
By Rachel Trachten
Carolyn Phinney was a master at overcoming obstacles even before Covid-19. Now the pandemic is yet another hurdle to navigate as she runs a thriving farm in Martinez, donating her produce to emergency food programs and families in need.
Phinney is quick to say that she knows nothing about farming. And yet, this research psychologist and political ac...
Thrive Dining makes eating easier and keeps
meals tasty for people with medical issues
By Rachel Trachten | Photos by Aaron Draper
At Bayside Park retirement community in Emeryville, a table is set for lunch with no utensils in sight. Some residents here are using Thrive Dining, an alternative for people with medical issues that affect coordination, cognition, chewing, or swallowing. The list ranges from stroke or dementia to Parkinson’s disease or
The basic idea behind Thriv...
A New Take on Giving Away the Farm
By Rachel Trachten
Charlie Costello wants to give you free tomato plants and teach you to save seeds. Last year, Costello gave 400 tomato plants to East Bay gardeners for their schools, urban farms, and homes. This year, he’s on track to share just as many, or maybe more, as he grows 18 different varieties, mostly from seeds he’s saved and started in his MariLark Farms greenhouse in the Berkeley Hills.
In May, Costello launched the MariLark Community Seed Ba...
GO Box brings reusable take-out containers to Oakland
By Rachel Trachten
Photos by Cheryl Angelina Koehler
Paul Liotsakis says he’s once again “on the bleeding edge” of a new concept. The 48-year-old Alamedan joined the organic food industry before standards were set and worked as an installer of solar and wind energy systems before there were permitting laws. Now Liotsakis is championing the GO Box, a reusable alternative to take-out food containers.
GO Box is a modern take on the old-fashio...
Cal students and groundskeepers see beyond the spotlessly green fields
by Rachel Trachten
Monsanto probably didn’t see trouble brewing on a campus beach volleyball court.
In the spring of 2017, UC Berkeley junior Mackenzie Feldman heard her coach tell the players not to chase the ball in bare feet if it went off the court. The reason? Ranger. The herbicide, made by Monsanto, had just been sprayed nearby.
Feldman was immediately alarmed. A part-native Hawaiian who was born and raised on O’ahu,...
A Glorious Chocolate Adventure
By Rachel Trachten | Photos by Jon Milavec
Is there any better magazine assignment than the chocolate beat?
Well, no, there just isn’t.
Before launching our exploration of East Bay chocolate, we turned to Berkeley’s own First Lady of Chocolate, Alice Medrich, from whom we learned some basics of the craft.
Medrich ran her own chocolate dessert shop, Cocolat, in North Berkeley from 1976 to 1989. On selling that business, she turned her attention toward writing, co...
The Conscious Kitchen serves up healthier,
tastier meals for West Contra Costa students
By Rachel Trachten | Photos by Carmen Silva
In the cafeteria at Madera Elementary School, a long line of chatty kids winds its way to a surprisingly elegant serving table. The usual microwaved lunches are nowhere in sight. Instead, the children get freshly cooked burgers or veggie burgers with whole-wheat buns, roasted squash, crisp lettuce, and juicy tangerines. Chefs and parent volunteers wearing white a...
Two Oakland entrepreneurs share business
savvy and advice as they walk the lake
By Rachel Trachten | Photos by Robin Jolin
Oakland business owners Cassandra Gates and Elizabeth Vecchiarelli make a habit of circling Lake Merritt together to brainstorm and offer each other morale boosts. “I’ll talk for the first 30 minutes, and she’ll talk for the second 30 minutes,” says Broth Baby founder Gates, explaining the routine she’s developed with her friend, the owner of Preserved. “[We’ll talk] abou...
“How would you get more people who aren’t eating butter to eat butter?”
Sixty-five UC Berkeley grad students puzzled over this light-hearted question as they vied for just 25 slots in the public health innovations course Eat.Think.Design. Course instructor Jaspal Sandhu likens this class audition to putting together a team or theatrical production and finding “a cohort that will work together in interesting ways.” Butter Day also gave students a taste of design thinking as they brainstormed various angles on butter consumption, including the recent McDonald’s dec...
Roots of Empathy brings babies into the classroom for lessons in social- emotional learning. By Rachel Trachten. Share on facebookShare on twitter Share on ......
Jewish Food Pros Gather at Urban Adamah
By Rachel Trachten | Photos by Lydia Daniller
I’m here at Berkeley farm Urban Adamah, watching a cluster of fellow visitors making what appear to be mudballs, patting them into shape, then dropping them onto the ground. Nearby, another group is plunging their hands into bowls of sliced cabbage, enthusiastically mixing the vegetable with salt.
These curious crafters are members of the Illuminoshi, a collection of Jewish food professionals—chefs, business...
Joel Devalcourt had been trying to perfect his chili sauce recipe when serendipity led him to a bottle of nut oil. More specifically, it was some La Tourangelle walnut oil that Joel and his wife Yvette found in the pantry of a Berkeley home where they were house sitting. A Santa Cruz native with French-via-Louisiana heritage, Joel is a passionate home cook. And even though his father hails from the home of Tabasco (New Iberia, Louisiana), Joel was on a personal quest to make a chili sauce wit...
Juiced for Food Justice
Organic smoothies and community spirit flow at Super Juiced
by Rachel Trachten | photos by Carmen Silva
Emanne Desouky and her partner Rana Halpern share deep roots in community organizing and a strong commitment to a healthy lifestyle. When they couldn’t find an organic juice bar in Oakland, they started one, first holding a series of pop-ups, and then opening a brick-and-mortar shop in the courtyard of Swan’s Market.
Most days, a steady stream of locals stop in at Su...