Food Safety Outbreaks: Stay Informed

Getting information from the Center for Disease Control

We often feel that our food supply is not as safe as it once was because we hear more about food-borne, pathogenic outbreaks. This is a function of many factors such as better reporting, more thorough followup investigations, and building public awareness. The best ways to keep safe are to eat food that is in season, eat domestically grown food, and stay informed.

Please find information about outbreaks at the following Center for Disease Control Web-site:

Event: Santa Lucia Highlands Sun, Wine & Wine Gala (5/18/19)

It is that time of year for this annual event!

“Join the preeminent producers of the Santa Lucia Highlands for an afternoon of delicious wine, gourmet delicacies from the area’s finest restaurants and food producers, a silent auction that benefits a local charity, live music, and more. Mer Soleil Winery generously opens its doors for the day, allowing fans of the region a peek into the beautiful property that’s not open to the public.

More than 40 vintners personally pour their most sought-after Santa Lucia Highlands bottlings, paired with bites by chefs from exceptional Monterey Peninsula restaurants and food purveyors like Basil Carmel, Carmel Valley Ranch, La Balena, Schoch Dairy, Village Corner, The Monterey Plaza Hotel and many more.”

For event information:

About Food Insecurity

The US has a great deal of food insecurity, which means that people live in households without consistent access to adequate food.

Millions of Americans continue to worry about the next meal: either because they cannot afford it or because food is not locally available. This article presents alarming facts:

  • Overall, food insecurity ranges from 4-36% by county.
  • Child insecurity ranges from 6-40% by county.
  • However, food insecurity is found everywhere. A county may have high average food security (e.g., Los Angeles County), but have population segments with high rates of food insecurity.
  • Food insecurity is often correlated with other negative indicators such as high unemployment, higher than average poverty rates, and/or lower than average home ownership.
  • In 2016, 25% of the people who were food insecure were unlikely to qualify for most federal nutrient programs.
  • USDA estimates that 41 million people are food insecure.
  • USDA estimates that 13 million children are food insecure.
  • One in eight individuals live in a US household without consistent access to adequate food.
  • One in six children live in a household without consistent access to adequate food.
  • Rural counties are 69% of all US counties but represent 79% of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.
  • 85% of counties with high child food insecurity are rural.
  • Rural Insecurity is especially concentrated in the Southern part of the US.
  • Two states that I particularly track are Oklahoma and California. Oklahoma has the 7th highest rate (22.7%) and California has the 20th highest rate (19%) of child food insecurity.
  • $3.00 is the national average meal cost. However, this cost varies across geographies. Some counties have lower average costs. Other counties, which tend to be found in metropolitan areas, have higher meal costs (e.g., average meal costs in Manhattan, New York County, are $5.70).
  • A food secure person is estimated to spend $273 on food per month.
  • There is an increase health issues such as diabetes, obesity, and disabilities in the most food insecure areas.

This article begs a few questions:

  • For example, these statistics were derived when the economy (assessed by traditional measures) is robust; however, what are the projections for food insecurity during an economic downturn?
  • What are the projections for food insecurity if California’s focus on water sustainability results in a decrease in supply or an increase in costs for domestically grown fresh fruits and vegetables?
  • The article is silent about the source of food. Is food security estimated solely on the ability to purchase food? In some areas of the country, particularly in rural areas, people produce their own food or barter for food. It is unclear whether this food source is considered.

Map the Meal, A Report on County and Congressional District Food Insecutiy and County Food Cost in the United States in 2016. Feeding America.

Beer: Central Coast Historic Saloons

The Central Coast of California has a raucous past fueled by “demon alcohol”served at the many “watering holes” on the stage coach routes along the El Camino Real. These bars thrived into the Twentieth Century as stops along main Central Coast highways and were discussed in a Smithsonian article.

In my wanderings about the Central Coast, I have been to all of the saloons, except for Cold Springs Tavern. It sits on a winding stagecoach route tucked in the Los Padres National Forest, overlooking Lake Cachuma Recreation Area. The roads in the area are a driving challenge under the best of conditions. Drivers consist of tourists: drunken wine-eos, looky-loos, lumbering recreational vehicles, or locals who are in a perpetual hurry. I was always one of the impatient locals, as I traveled to or from Santa Barbara for business meetings. Somehow, I never managed to stop for a “cold one”.

Some of the saloons in the article are seldom open, such as Mattei’s Tavern and Pozo Saloon. The former is in Los Olivos, which sits just off of Highway 154, about 5 miles east of Highway 101. This hamlet is a picturesque, lunch-spot outside Santa Barbara. In recent years, it has transitioned from a couple of lanes of art galleries to Santa Barbara’s wine tasting hub. Over the years, Mattei’s Tavern has changed hands and now is only open in the evening.

Over the last 30 years, I have attended all sorts of business events at the Far Western in Guadalupe, and have had some fantastic steak dinners there. Unfortunately, the Far Western has abandoned it’s stately Victorian abode in Guadalupe, and moved to new digs in Orcutt, where it advertises itself as “Contemporary California Ranch Cuisine”. The new location is a bit out-of-the-way for the traveler on Highway 101. A person must intend to go there for dinner.

Pozo Saloon is now open Friday through Sunday, and often, sponsors special concerts and events. The trek to the remote Pozo Saloon a gorgeous trek through rolling hills, pasture land, and vineyards, especially in the spring, when the wildflowers are in bloom. For a day trip, you can always add wine tasting, or a stop at the Dunbar Brewery, or dinner at the Range in nearby Santa Margarita.

The two North San Luis Obispo (SLO) County saloons are well-integrated in their communities.

The bacchanal history of the Elkhorn Saloon, in San Miguel, is juxtaposed with the religious fervor of nearby San Miguel Mission. Last summer, on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, I made the short drive from Paso Robles to the Elkhorn. A friendly bartendress welcomed me into the dark, cool interior, aglow with neon beer signs. The Elkhorn has very masculine history serving frontier outlaws and military men from Camp Roberts and Fort Hunter Ligget. Therefore, it was surprising to find only ladies present for an ad hoc “Ladies Day Celebration”. All were ready to swap stories about the Elkhorn’s ghosts and its Prohibition shenanigans.

The Park Street Saloon in Paso Robles vacillates between a quiet spot for an afternoon libation and a riotous, throbbing Karaoke-bar/pub-crawl-destination at night. Take this advice. Be ready to belt out your favorite song and don’t wear flip flops. In the wee hours, the bar is packed, and so much beer is spilled, you may look like Bambi-on-ice if you try to dance.

Kettmann, Matt. The Historic Saloons of Central California. (June 23, 2011)