One state just made farmers markets more affordable. It's good for everyone, even farmers.

With the stroke of a pen, California Gov. Jerry Brown funded a $5 million program that supports local farmers and families in need.

It's the kind of good news we don't hear enough about.

In this new program, the California Nutrition Incentives Act will offer discounts on fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets for low-income shoppers receiving federal benefits.



A customer shops for fresh vegetables at a farmers market in San Francisco, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

A similar California-based program called Market Match, which has already rolled out, matches government benefits dollar for dollar to use on fresh produce and may serve as a model for the new California program.

Basically, if a shopper wants to use $5 of their federal benefits, this new program provides $10 in tokens for the shopper to use at local farmers markets.

That's double the amount of money that can used to buy fresh produce and double the amount of fresh produce sold, too. It's a great deal for families and farmers alike.

While the bill was approved by the state legislature last October, it was unclear where the money for the program would come from.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that $100 million in Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grants would be used to fund projects aimed at getting nutrient-rich, affordable foods to people in need.

Shoppers look at produce at the farmers market in Monterey Park, California. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Quickly, states and nonprofits developed coordinated efforts to apply for the funds. Washington and Massachusetts have already received $6 million and $4 million respectively for their programs. And Market Match received $3.7 million over two years to expand their program, too.

Naturally, California (which has around 700 farmers markets and more than 3.6 million residents in the CalFresh benefits program) wanted in.

And by funding this new $5 million project, California will receive a $5 million match from the USDA, doubling the program's potential impact.

A woman shops for peaches at the Monterey Park Farmers Market. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Projects like this are a win for everyone.

Local growers and farmers get to connect with and serve more customers.

(Yay, community!)

Uriel Espinoza, left, helps a customer pick out strawberries at a farmers market in San Francisco. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Low-income families using federal benefits can stretch that money a little farther and spend it on local food at an affordable price.

(Yay, delicious meals and strong families!)

A woman shops for peaches at Monterey Park's Farmers Market in Monterey Park, California. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

And every level of government gets the chance to work together for the people and take an active role providing better options for people with limited access to fresh options.

(Yay, good government!)

An organic farmer puts up a sign at the new farmers market in Hollywood. Photo by Sebastian Artz/Getty Images.

For everyone involved, this is the start of something good. Let's keep the good going.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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