California and Washington D.C. Clash Over Immigration . . . What You Can Do To Make a Difference

Our latest "Food for Thought" conversation - How Immigration Issues Are Affecting California's Food Supply -  was a detailed, thoroughly honest, somewhat depressing conversation that also had some threads of hope.

With Washington D.C. now suing California over immigration law, this conversation will only continue. And there is a way you can keep this conversation going -- and make it more uplifting. Our panelists Bruce Rominger, Lety Valencia and Santana Diaz had these two suggestions about how Californians can help the "other" Californians we were discussing last night:

1) Support your local farmers: Buy as much local- and state-grown produce as possible, and fewer out-of-state and out-of-country crops. That keeps our CA farmers competitive with countries paying cheaper wages to workers overseas, and lets them hire the hands they need to grow and reap the crops -- especially labor-intensive crops like asparagus (which used to be a major crop here but rapidly disappearing) and strawberries.

2) Give money to a legal defense fund: Lety Valencia told us there are only 40 immigration lawyers currently working in the Central Valley (which has thousands of farmworkers who are undocumented), and not all of them take pro- or low-bono cases. That means many farmworkers needing help with their immigration status and citizenship are in limbo or leaving the state, because trying to navigate this legal system is tough enough when you're a legal resident.

Valencia's org, Faith in the Valley, started the Fresno Legal Defense Fund and when Fresno's City Council voted no on giving it public money, Faith raised seed funding from Sierra Health Foundation, Wells Fargo and the Latino Community Foundation. But you can help them fund more people's cases by donating to the Legal Defense Fund.

For more background on this important-and-still-trending  topic, listen to the podcast (iTunes or Soundcloud) of our "Food for Thought" event on immigration turmoil in the Central Valley, the World's Salad Bowl

And other organizations you can help with their funding for immigration-specific legal aid are:
* California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
* Immigrant Family Defense Fund
* Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services


The Future of Farming: Our Next "Food for Thought" Talk

The Future of Farming, as summed up in this story in Comstock's:

Rubie Simonsen has a full-time day job but she was motivated enough to enroll -- and complete -- the seven-month California Farm Academy program through the Center for Land-Based Learning last year. While she still has the 9-to-5-job, Simonsen also started First Mother Farms, growing her first crop of lavender on a 1/8th-acre space on one of the Center's incubator plots in West Sacramento.

To date, the Center has trained 96 future farmers, 17 of whom have purchased their own land and started farms.

Mary Kimball, executive director of the Center for Land-Based Learning, joins us for our next "Food for Thought" talk at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op on the evening of Wednesday, November 15.  She'll talk about the efforts to inspire young people to get into farming, whether as a hobby or a profession, and make sure there's still enough people in California to grow the food that feeds us.

A Knight of the Hops - and Five Other Groundbreakers of California Beer to Listen To

At our "Brewmasters talk," we asked Steve Dresler, recently retired from 34 years as brewmaster of Sierra Nevada, what was pinned to his shirt collar.

It's the medal of the International Order of the Hop. The Order was instituted more than 600 years ago by John the Fearless who was born in 1371 in Dijon, France, son of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy and King of Brabant. The order is a mark of distinction awarded to those who contribute to the cultivation of the “noble hop” and the “agreeable drink,” beer.

Dresler is the first U.S. brewmaster ever to receive this.

In his speech when he received it two months ago, he said he started his career at Sierra Nevada as chief taster, where he packed four and drank every fifth bottle of beer. There was no automated equipment and he scooped hops from a kettle by hand. “The uniqueness of my career was that it spanned the history of craft breweries as we know them today."

He drove down from Chico to talk to us, alongside Mike Mraz of Mraz Brewing Company, a multiple Gold Medal winner at the California State Fair and another craft beer demi-god in the making.

It's Groundbreakers like these who are shaping Califorrnia beer -- they live in and around Sacramento, and they have lots of amazing stories.

Listen to the podcast of our "Brewmasters" talk with Dresler and Mraz.

Listen also to our brand-new "Icebreakers," mini-podcasts that we upload in advance of our live Groundbreaker events. In advance of the "Brewmasters" talk, we sat down in the recording studio with a few other people who also do groundbreaking stuff in the beer industry, including:

* Charlie Bamforth, Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, also known asthe "Pope of Foam," discusses how his department and its research has shaped the production of California's craft beer.
* J-E Paino of Ruhstaller Beer explains why his is the only brewery in California, besides the mega-big Sierra Nevada Brewing, to grow its own hops.
Glynn Phillips, owner of Rubicon Brewing Company, talks about the rise and fall of Sacramento's oldest craft brewery, and why he closed Rubicon 1.5 months before it marked its 30th anniversary.
* Kate Whelan, director of Sacramento Beer Week, talks about how women are shaking up the beer industry.


Podcast Is Up: How We're Handling Dam Repairs, Flood COntrol and Fixes to Our Water Infrastructure

After the epic winter of 2017, there's enough water to keep reservoirs and rivers -- drought-dry just a few months ago -- swollen for months to come. But that means plenty of flood watches and flood alerts. And then winter, a.k.a. rainy season, is not that far away. So how are our dams and levees holding up to handle all that?

Listen to the podcast of our May 24 "Policy and a Pint" panel talk about California's water infrastructure. Pur great group of panelists tell us about the state of our aging levees and crumbling dams (it's not just Oroville we need to focus on); how (or if) they can be repaired; how much will that all cost; and who's supposed to pay that particular water bill.

Listen to the entire 1 hr, 37 min. podcast, or scroll down to the"Podcast Timeframe" section to listen to certain topics and specific segments.

We held it in the basement of Graciano's Speakeasy, a former governor's mansion/grocery store/brothel/Prohibition speakeasy in Old Sacramento. The basement is at the level where our city used to stand before the Great Flood of 1862, the biggest in California's recorded history, made officials use a lot of packed dirt to raise the buildings a minimum of 14 feet. It's te perfect place to have a pint and talk about flood control.



The Podcast for Our "Policy and a Pint" on Pot and Prop 64 Is Up

More than 140 people came to Ruhstaller on January 11 for a standing-room-only discussion on the future of pot now that Propsition 64 has passed. Big thanks to the great panelists - Lori Ajax, Hezekiah Allen, Nate Bradley, Gabriel Garcia, Councilman Jay Schenirer and Andrea Unsworth -- and everyone who attended, especially those who stood for the entire 1 hour and 45 minutes.

You can sit down, kick back, relax and listen to our "Pot Is Legal . . Now What?" podcast on Soundcloud. Listen to the entire 1:45 hour podcast at once, or listen to segments you're most interested in -- we broke it down in the "Podcast Timeframe" section at the bottom of the page.

A Contentious Issue: Placer County's Measure M

A Weekend-Before-The-Election podcast special: Four panelists go head-to-head on Placer County's Measure M. It's one of 16 ballot measures in California counties that ask voters to increase their sales tax to pay for transportation improvements (Sacramento has Measure B).

Placer's Measure M is certainly an interesting one -- both the Tea Party and the Sierra Club are against it. Two of their representatives came onto our "Policy and a Pint" panel last week in Roseville to debate against a Placer County supervisor and the Yes on Measure M campaign manager.

As you'll hear, it was a passionate debate over a contentious issue -- but everyone shook hands and saluted each other at the end.

Listen to the podcast here

6 Ways UC Davis Is Supporting and Promoting AgTech Startups

UC Davis is the top school in the U.S. for Agricultural Sciences. Now it's turning that science into AgTech startups This AgFunder article explains how, and we'll be going into the details this Wednesday at 6 pm -- "Future of Food: How Yolo County Is Shaping It" at Sudwerk Brewing in Davis.