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Move Over Medicinals

In California, a dozen Edible magazines serve the Golden State, each singularly focused on the local, agrarian stories that shape our daily lives. Yet, a huge chapter of that story has gone mostly untold, certainly in this magazine—cannabis. It is cultivated up and down California, tucked under redwood trees, hidden in neighborhoods and rural areas alike, and soon, grown in industrial greenhouses across the valley floor. As 2018 brings unprecedented change to California’s agricultural landscape, stories about the farmers, families, and migrant workers of the cannabis industry will finally be shared. This article focuses the lens on the most fundamental intersection between cannabis and food—edibles. More particularly, those of the sweet kind prepared nearby.

A tricky moniker, the definition of edible is simply fit to be eaten. But more often, when talking about an edible, people refer to food products infused with a liquid, powder, or fat form of cannabis. The chemical compounds contained within the cannabis flowers and leaves are known as cannabinoids, which bind to various receptors in the human body. The most famous cannabinoid, THC, is responsible for creating a powerful psychoactive effect on humans—it’s been getting teenagers (and their parents) high since the 60s. But Read More

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Six Degrees Coffee Connects

Locals may have seen the Six Degrees coffee logo in an area café or on one of their white delivery vans or may have passed the sign by the Six Degrees warehouse off Cohasset Avenue near the Chico airport. In bold text next to an outline of a steaming mug of coffee, the business’s name Six Degrees conjures social psychologists’ small world notion, the idea that such is the nature of our social networks that just six degrees of separation connect us all. Everyone knows someone, who knows someone, who. . . . That is, there’s a connection between you and me, and between everyone, just six people away. 

It has been called an urban myth, but the notion perfectly fits what founders Amy Louis and Elizabeth Goldblatt want to accomplish with their coffee service and distribution business Six Degrees. Their business’s tagline, “Coffee connects us,” expresses the way they treat business customers and the way they support coffee farmers throughout the world. “We treat customers the way we want to be treated,” said Amy. The Golden Rule also extends to those farmers. As Elizabeth put it, “We simply will not be able to have specialty coffee if we don’t Read More

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Perspire, Pickle, and Persevere

Sixty-five years have passed since the Moss family moved to the property that has become TJ Farms in Chico. They’ve farmed crops of alfalfa, walnuts, almonds, kiwi, and a variety of vegetables, including pumpkins. The farm’s pumpkin patch has lured Chico families to TJ Farms each October for decades and created memories for many. Julie Newby, a fan of TJ Farms from the early days, says, “TJ Farms is authentic Chico. It’s like going back in time where people were less hurried, and you can just appreciate nature.” While visitors, like Julie, find the farm idyllic, the family has had little time to idle. Their sixty-five years farming are a testament to their resilience and persistence and show how nimble they’ve been in response to decades of market fluctuations.

The Land

The Moss family moved onto the property, thirty-five acres at the time, in 1952. Sue and Marvin Moss ran the farm as a side business, while Marvin worked as a dentist and they raised their two sons Dave and Jerry.  The family started by growing alfalfa. Harvest time was laborious, cutting, baling, loading the bales.  “One of the best of days of our life was when we Read More

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New-Age Country Breakfast

 

One of the things that makes food so enjoyable is its ability to capture memories, powerful, sensory, olfactory memories born from food and packaged forever into our brains. Triggered by the spicy smell of thickening sausage gravy, the hiss of apples cooking in brown butter, and the sight of an over-crowded pie pan filled with white biscuits, I am nine years old and I can eat more biscuits and gravy than my grown grandfather.

Isn’t it funny how food has such control over us? Funny though food is, stored in the mind as a positive or negative experience with emotions to boot, it’s even funnier knowing that those emotions are actually born from deep within your gut.

Inside the deepest depths of your core, there are roughly 400 different species of bacteria—thus those bacterial genes outnumber our human genes thirtyfold. In essence, we are all more bacteria than we are human—which is a crazy thought. These critters make up what we call the human microbiome, and it houses 95% of your feel-good serotonin production. They work for us to keep us balanced, regular, and happy, so long as we feed them well, meaning with simple, whole foods.

Whole foods, Read More

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Food for the Soul

On a quiet, tucked away block in downtown Chico, an unassuming building houses a safe haven for homeless youth in our town. Like me, most never notice the 6th Street Center for Youth between Main and Broadway. Unlike me, chef and restaurant owner Ann Leon, of Leon Bistro, had noticed the center. Its location is close to her restaurant. Seeing young people camping and living in areas nearby, as well as walking by her restaurant during the day, Ann would give food and a word of encouragement. These small gestures of kindness soon led her to reach out to help in a much bigger way. 

As a member of Soroptimist International (SI) of Chico, Ann attended a meeting where Jennifer Barzey, the Program Manager of the 6th Street Center, presented. It turned out that Leon Bistro and 6th Street both opened their doors in 2008. At the SI meeting, Jennifer spoke about the young people that Ann was seeing downtown. She told compelling stories of youth who feel lost, have no home or caretakers, who are hungry and without direction. Many of them are currently or were formerly in the foster care system. Most have experienced extremely Read More

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Secret Ingredient Vegetable Stock

Ahhh simmering stock: to me the smells of autumn and winter, literal house warming, and a most timely recycling opportunity.

It amazes me that from papery onion and garlic skins, winter squash seed pulp, onion ends with root hairs intact, herbaceous thyme and parsley stems, fibrous kale stems, tough fennel cores, lemongrass clippings, carrot tops, mushroom stalks and celery butts, we can extract healthful and flavorful nutrients into water, transforming it from bland beverage to nourishing tonic that breathes new life into the meals that feed your family throughout the year.

It’s ridiculously simple: keep a gallon-sized plastic bag in the freezer to collect vegetable scraps, accumulate enough to make a handsome amount of stock, cover with water, season with salt, and simmer away unattended for a while. There is one other piece that you’re missing in your stock pot and it is likely another item that is being tossed into the waste bin after one-pot pasta dinners: parmesan rinds!

This often-discarded part of the cheese wheel still has something to offer. Once you reach the hardened outer rim of your cheese chunk, toss it into your pot of vegetable stock and find a punch of umami and depth of Read More

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U-Pick Pomegranates

With a singleton and two sets of twins, life on a cul de sac in Orland felt claustrophobic.  The simple country life beckoned and the Wunsch family made the brave decision to follow their dream of raising their five children on the Corning country side, instilling in them the honest values of hard work, fresh air, and wide open spaces.

“It was my husband, Eric’s, idea to plant pomegranates,” Suzanne recollected with an infectiously wonderful personality. I could almost hear her smile through the phone when we spoke the first time.

“It’s very rare to find a person who doesn’t like pomegranates. I think I’ve only ever met two. Most people think, ‘pomegranates – I love pomegranates!’”

With a passion for pomegranates, Eric and Suzanne Wunsch planted their first acre of drought-tolerant pomegranate trees on Halloween Day with their children in 2004. Their intention was to harvest their own estate pomegranates to make jelly for their friends and family every year.

They planted six more acres before 2009. The plan was to sell their fruit to packers, until neighbors and friends growing pomegranates commercially relayed the low prices pomegranates were bringing in at the time. Going into the pomegranate business Read More

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Strawhouse Grows Up

Seventeen years ago, when Don and Julia Ellis set out to create an agro-tourism destination on the Trinity River, they never imagined tossing pizzas and roasting coffee in a house made of straw. Now Don, head pizza chef and chief roaster, wouldn’t want it any other way. The Strawhouse Café & Resorts is perched just off Highway 299 in Big Flat, California, a hitching post sized town halfway between Redding and the Pacific coast. The scenic highway hugs the bubbling whitewater and blue-green pools of the Trinity River as it rushes west. Nearly every year, winter storms send massive boulders bouncing down the mountainside, resulting in frequent road closures and long delays. After an onslaught of rain last winter, the highway was closed, incredibly enough, for two long months. In this wild and mountainous country, even on an average year, the challenge in accessing fresh and organic foods is huge. Against all odds, the Strawhouse Café has been weathering the storm for seventeen years.

“We wanted to farm. We wanted to be truly self-sustainable,” says Don, reflecting on the dreams that led them to Big Flat. After selling most their possessions, the Ellises bought a truck and headed north, leaving Read More

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