California Foodways producer Lisa Morehouse spends a lot of time in her car. Since 2014, she’s been on a kind of mission: to travel to every county in the state, finding stories about food, agriculture, and — most importantly — the people that make both possible.
California’s story can’t be separated from food. Food industries here generate $100 billion annually, our farms feed the nation, and kitchens set international culinary trends. But the real story is how people, work, and land connect to food – in the richest, most diverse, most complex state in the country.
Tune in to California Foodways — on the radio (via our constant partner KQED’s California Report Magazine, or national shows like NPR’s All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, The World, The Splendid Table and more) and via our podcast (Apple Podcast or your preferred provider). Because in California, food isn’t just food. It’s the common language that lets us explore culture, history, economics, the environment, and everything that goes into making the California story.
California Foodways isn’t just about reporting stories, though. Equally important: developing a diverse generation of storytellers and journalists at colleges and universities in the state thanks to partnerships with professors at San Francisco State, Delta College, and UC Merced.
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Lisa Morehouse (reporter/producer) is an award-winning public radio reporter, producer and editor whose work has taken her from Samoan traveling circuses to Mississippi Delta classrooms. She’s filed for NPR’s Morning Edition and Latino USA, PRI’s The World, and KQED’s The California Report. She produced the series After the Gold Rush: The Future of Small Town California before launching California Foodways. For this series, she won national Edward R. Murrow and SPJ NorCal awards, was nominated for two James Beard Awards, and was named an 11th Hour/UC Berkeley Food and Farming Journalism fellow. Morehouse is an editor for KALW’s news magazine, Crosscurrents. A recipient of a Certificate in Documentary Arts from Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, she runs workshops at that center most summers. She’s worked with youth in the Bay Area and across California to develop radio diaries and feature stories.
Ariel Plotnick (podcast producer) is an independent audio producer. She currently works at Marketplace. Her stories have aired on NPR, KQED and KALW. She got her start interning at WHYY, Third Coast International Audio Festival, and is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She likes to report stories that make small subjects feel universal and big subjects feel intimate.
Asal Ehsanipour (intern) started out in radio by interning for KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny, where she helped produce stories on journalistic integrity and whether the Bay Area is too dog-friendly. In her humble opinion, it is not. After graduating from USC’s Annenberg School For Communication & Journalism, she spent 6 months working on an urban farm in Berkeley. Since then, Asal has also worked as a copywriter for the Bay Area-based nonprofit ILLUMINATE The Arts, and recently completed KALW’s Audio Academy fellowship.
Marisol Medina-Cadena (intern) is an independent radio reporter and documentary filmmaker based in California. Her work has appeared on KALW public radio, KCET, Smithsonian Folkways Magazine, and NPR’s Latino USA. she was associate producer for City Rising, a multi-platform documentary series that traces gentrification and displacement through the lens of historical discriminatory laws and practices.
The late Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon (humanities adviser) had a huge influence on the creation and production of California Foodways. She was a third generation Filipina American born and raised in Stockton, California, and an Associate Professor of history at San Francisco State University. She earned a B.A. in history and M.A. in Asian American Studies from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in American history from Stanford University. Her research focused on Filipina/o American history, historic and cultural preservation, and the history of food. Since 2006, Mabalon taught the course Historical Perspectives on Food, Culture and Identity in SFSU’s history department. She co-founded the Little Manila Foundation (http://www.littlemanila.org) and wrote of Filipinos in Stockton (Arcadia, 2008) and Little Manila Is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipina/o Amerian Community in Stockton, California (Duke University Press, 2013). Her essay “As American as Jackrabbit Adobo: Eating, Cooking and Becoming Filipina/o American” was published in Eating Asian America. At the time of her death, she was writing two books, one of Filipino-American food history, and a biography of Filipino labor leader Larry Itliong.
Dr. Sarah Seekatz (humanities adviser) is an Associate Professor of History at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California, focusing on Mexican American History. Dr. Seekatz received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside with a focus on Public History and California History. Her research on Southern California’s date industry and its orientalist fantasies has been supported by fellowships from the Autry National Center, The Huntington Library, and the UC California Studies Consortium. Seekatz has been featured on CNN, NPR, Al Jazeera America, KCET.org, and National Geographic’s blog The Salt. Previously, she directed the Mexican American Pioneer Project at the Coachella Valley History Museum. Her book, Images of America: Indio’s Date Festival, hit shelves in February 2016.
Dr. Mario Sifuentez (teaching project partner) is an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Merced. He received his BA, as well as his MA, from the University of Oregon in Ethnic Studies, and History. He completed his Ph.D. at Brown University in American Studies with a focus on immigration and labor. His book Of Forests and Fields: Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest (Rutgers University Press, 2016) analyzes the factors that brought ethnic Mexican immigrants to the Pacific Northwest and the ways in which immigrants responded to the labor conditions by demanding both labor rights and citizenship rights. He is also the co-author of “The Foundations of Modern Farm Worker Unionism: From UFW to PCUN” in Labor’s New World: Essays on the Future of Working-Class America. He is currently at work on his second project on water, food, and farmworkers in the California’s Central Valley. Sifuentez was recently named as director of the UC Merced Humanities Center.