By Mary MacVean

Assante Microfarm in L.A. (Photo by Mary MacVean)

As people gathered along the sidewalk outside the corner house at Angeles Vista Boulevard and Olympiad Drive, motorists slowed to check out the fuss.

The fuss, on a hot Saturday morning, was Asante Microfarm, which not so long ago was a yard covered in grass, like those at so many homes in Los Angeles, where we know grass isn’t the best environmental choice, nor the best economic choice. But a farm?

Asante Microfarm’s grand opening on April 3 drew dozens of people to the View Park neighborhood who are…

I tried the Jenny Craig diet, and here’s what I found

These are some of the foods I bought (Photo by Mary MacVean)

By Mary MacVean

My first day on the Jenny Craig diet I ate a mixed berry bar and vanilla shake for breakfast; chicken tacos and salad for lunch; and spaghetti and meatballs and lemon cooler cookies for dinner. Packaged and portioned for my convenience.

I’ve written about food for years, and have been curious about these diets that make so many choices on your behalf.

The dishes above seem like a decent day’s menu, even if they’re not what I’d cook if I were trying to lose weight —…

Feeling bored, annoyed, unsettled in my pandemic-era kitchen

By Mary MacVean

Finally baking banana bread (Photos by Mary MacVean)

It’s all Covid cooking now, and it’s getting achingly tiresome. I never imagined Covid cooking would become a way of life, that I’d still be making do without ingredients I wanted or that I’d be making dinner every single night, like my 1950s housewife mom. (Hope that’s not too painful, Husband.)

This has its upsides: More people might be learning to cook, at least I hope that’s so. We are perhaps wasting less food with a disincentive to run to the store for any old thing. I gave in…

By Mary MacVean

Husband and I live in an urban neighborhood, which in our part of L.A. means we have a very small backyard. We have no grass, but we have a big dining table and two raised bed boxes Husband built for me. Growing some of your own food is peaceful, empowering and economical. It’s also a radical act. And it can break your heart or send it soaring once you’re attached to your plants.

The days around Labor Day were outrageously hot, and the skies full of the residue from horrific fires. Our air was among the top…

Considering my heritage, a prison feast to honor George Floyd, and jammin’ for all

This board would certainly be left at the messy end of any garage sale, when everything gets loaded into the car, either for donating or trashing. Look at it: gouged, nearly broken in half, stained and rough around the edges. I don’t use it, but this cruddy-looking piece of wood is one of my dearest possessions.

This board belonged to my maternal grandmother, a woman who died long before I was born. She raised my mom, aunt and uncle on a farm not far from Rochester, N.Y., a beautiful hilltop site where the winters were brutal and the neighbors far…

Growing, making food can be radical politics that work toward nutritional equity

My goal with this project was simple: In the face of a pandemic, orders to stay home, restaurants closed, I wanted to share some ideas for mostly-healthful, delicious, easy-to-make food. Feeding one another, I reasoned, is a hopeful, loving political act.

Political action became more urgent from the day of George Floyd’s murder. Those of us who are white need to see the racism in front of us, call it out, examine our lives and feelings. We need to get educated. …

Covid-19 has had to make room in our attention for the demands for a more just society. Not that the pandemic is over, far from it. I, and most people I know, wear masks and calculate risk every day, but my heart is pulled to the uprisings I so hope will bring real change.

As I turn the pages of my (yes, paper) calendar, and see the birthdays that won’t be parties, the summer concerts I won’t be attending, I want to consider food from another perspective, one related to justice.

A few months back, when we were all told…

My heart and my head are exploding. I feel frightened, full of many overwhelming emotions. I’m deeply worried for the future of my country and so proud of the people who are stepping up to create the world they want to see, not waiting for established leaders but rather showing the way themselves on the streets of America.

I suppose I appreciate the streams of emails from organizations and companies that call out callous killings of Black Americans, promise to do better, to stand with Black Lives Matter and all the rest. …

Husband and I spent part of Memorial Day weekend doing something so normal: We planted tomatoes, herbs, squash, eggplant and a few other vegetables in our little urban raised beds. But, of course, we are all oceans away from normal. To me, staying home and staying isolated lately feels a bit like the tale of the boy with his finger in the dike. We may soon be washed away by those who are eager to be out and about. If you go to church, the mall or the beach, you won’t see me, but I hope you are safe.

Two masked faces and one very cute dog


For many people, fears of covid-19 have given ground to frustration. Perhaps it’s not knowing when your office or school will reopen; or should you quarantine from your adult children; or when will the unemployment funds arrive. I am among the lucky ones: uninfected, housed, Internet-connected and not alone. The weather is warm, the sky is clear and cornflower blue. And it’s still hard.

March 26, Thursday

12:30 p.m. on Thursdays is a high point of my stay-home week. Diana Winston’s half-hour meditation moved from the Hammer Museum auditorium to Zoom. One of the nation’s best-known meditation teachers, she directs…

Mary MacVean

Longtime food writer, now food grower. Journalist, reader, traveler

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