Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Fruit

Working to get more fruits and vegetables in corner stores


One way health advocates are working to make more nutritious food available in neighborhoods without easy access to supermarkets is by trying to get more fruits and vegetables into corner stores. A new website, Market Makeovers, has launched to guide people who might like to organize such a project.

Market Makeovers features the work of some high school students in South Los Angeles who have been working on three stores in their neighborhood as case studies.

For two years, South L.A. Healthy Eating Active Communities Initiative and Public Matters have worked with the students from the Accelerated School. The initiative, funded by the California Endowment, is an effort to reduce childhood diabetes and obesity. Public Matters is a California-based group of artists, educators and media professionals working on neighborhood-based projects.

-- Mary MacVean

(Photo: Jessica Orellana, left, and Britanni Marie Dighero, are making a video about their makeover project. Photo by Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

Fresh produce going to WIC recipients


There is rejoicing today at agencies that work with recipients of food vouchers through the Women, Infants and Children program. Read more here.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo by Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Your Labor Day menu, from cocktails to some really cool desserts


You could think of Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer. But we prefer to think of it as a three-day celebration of California -- our produce, our farmers markets, and our climate, which pretty much allows us to cook outdoors all year round. So we culled some of our favorite recipes to come out of the L.A. Times Test Kitchen. We have cocktails, and plenty of grilling and entree ideas (such as the Texas Hickory smoked brisket with coffee barbecue sauce) as well as plenty of really cool desserts. (No oven needed!)

But you might want something else. Like appies. Or some sides. So browse through our recipes at latimes.com/recipes. And bookmark that address -- we're constantly adding new recipes.

Happy Labor Day!

-- Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

VIDEO: Making a fig frangipane tart


Consider this an excuse to stock up on fresh figs: Make a fig frangipane tart --Rene Lynch

'90210's' Shenae Grimes loves her Pinkberry


Actress Shenae Grimes has been away from her native Toronto for only a year, but she's quickly getting up to speed on all things SoCal. She's starring in the CW's Beverly Hills-based series "90210," which begins its second season Sept. 8, and she now calls West Hollywood home. Here's how she spends an ideal weekend in L.A. (Hint: It involves a mochi-mango.)

Salad bars in the nation's salad bowl


Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) met with elementary school kids and officials in Salinas today to talk about getting more fresh fruits and vegetables served in schools.

Farr's office says he'll introduce legislation next month that would get school districts buying more produce through the commodity program they now use to buy food for school breakfast and lunch through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His spokesman, Tom Mentzer, says the bill would direct $50 million a year from the commodity program for fresh produce.

The Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary School, for students in kindergarten through third grade, has a salad bar, and used stimulus funds to buy refrigerators for storing produce, says Lorelei DiSogra, vice president for nutrition and health of industry group United Fresh Produce Assn., who also was at the school today.

Salad bars, Mentzer says, "are one of the best tools to get kids to eat fresh vegetables."

"Children learn about the food pyramid, but for years schools have failed to provide enough fresh fruits and vegetables," Farr said in a statement. "Last year's Farm Bill, which provides $1.2 billion to expand the fruit and vegetable snack program nationwide, is the first significant sign that priorities are changing."

And while children learn in school that they should eat lots of fruits and vegetables, they don't get enough of them to eat, he says.

Farr's legislation is one of several concerning childhood nutrition that will be considered as Congress looks toward reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act later this year.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: The salad bar at Jesse G. Sanchez, with some costumed teachers and staff. Credit: United Fresh Produce Assn.

Psyllids found in Orange County; insect could devastate California citrus industry

A tiny insect that often carries a tree-killing disease and threatens to destroy California's $1.6-billion citrus industry has moved into Orange County.

Agricultural officials said today that they recently trapped five adult Asian citrus psyllids on a lemon tree at a home in Santa Ana, the farthest north they have found the aphid-like insect.

"Having it as far north as Santa Ana means that the pest could be anywhere in the entire Los Angeles basin. This is not good. We are not containing the pest," said Ted Batkin, president of the Citrus Research Board.

The trade group is working with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to control the bug and prevent the disease from gaining a hold in the state.

Full story by Times staff writer Jerry Hirsch: Psyllids found in Orange County; insect could devastate California citrus industry

Put up or ... : Saving the Season, a new blog about preserves

A new Los Angeles-based blog, Saving the Season, celebrates the art of home canning (or "putting up") and all things deliciously jammy -- preserved huckleberries, blueberry butter, white peaches in lavender syrup, apricot jam with maple and vanilla, mulberry-plum preserves and more. 

The blog is about "jams and other fruit preserves, pickles and briny things, canned vegetables (above all tomatoes)," according to its author, Kevin West, who is also West Coast editor of W magazine. Though it's just a couple of months old, there already are several recipes for jams and fruit butters, as well as one for cocktail onions -- for Gibsons, of course.     

It's also rife with good reading, punctuated by canners' secrets (such as the judicious use of gin), literary references (Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Tomatoes"), and even personal advice from Alice Waters ("do everything neatly always").

On Saturday, West and Bettina Birch of BeeGreenFarm will give a free canning demonstration at Surfas in Culver City from noon to 1:30 p.m. They will show how to make peach jam and how to can tomatoes, with a tasting to follow. (Surfas is at 8777 Washington Blvd., Culver City; (310) 559-4770.)

-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Kevin West

Sampler Platter: Classic Julia Child, CandyCots, bacon cheddar, insane sandwiches and amazing food art


Regarding the bacon cheddar cheese in the photo, all we can say is: Why didn't someone think of this sooner? And now, a dose of food news to kick off your week.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Rob Takata / For The Times

Memories of Copia, and a lesson well learned


Our recent story about Napa at a crossroads -- and the efforts to revive Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts -- brought back some fond memories for one reader. Mel Raab and his wife, Jan, visited Copia a few years ago on their first visit to Napa, and their garden has never looked the same. Here, he recalls that magical night when he became a mulberry farmer -- and his hopes for Copia's revival:

Copia's gardeners were startled by the dark red dripping down my arm, but all I wanted was more information on the tree I had just been standing under.

Here's how the night started:

As we pulled up into Copia's lot, we eyed grapes on haphazard vines clawing their way up the surrounding fence. If this is what passed for weeds in Napa, we couldn't imagine what Copia's gardens would hold. We noticed the manicured gardens fronting the two tracts near Copia's main building. The weather was inviting and the gardens vivid, so before going deeper indoors to Copia's formal exhibits, we stepped among the careful plantings.

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.