August: Heat in the Fields, "Harvest of Shame" Screening + More

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In this Newsletter

 Weekly Blog Round Up

 "Harvest of Shame" Film Screening & Discussion

 EPA Public Comment Period Deadline Approaching

 Food Forward Campaign

 Wood Colony Fair



California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) is the only California non-profit with a mission to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California's rural communities.


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California Institute for Rural Studies  Weekly Blog  Round Up

In the last month on our blog, we had several great guest pieces, tackling a variety of topical subjects.
“Despite Need, Indigenous Farmworkers Have Little Access to Mental Health Services in California” by Hannah Guzik, “The Continued Impact of California’s Drought” by Philip Martin, “Prime Farmland Lost to Land Idling, Habitat Conversion, Urbanization” by Sharon Licht, and "Heat in the Fields"  by our own Annie Beaman, which is below.

 All articles are featured on our website in the Rural California Report Blog, and are available there as free downloadable files.

Heat in the Fields

By Annie Beaman

heat risk

The first six months of 2014 were the warmest ever recorded in California. According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, the past six months were nearly 5º F hotter than the 20th century average and more than 1º F warmer than the previous record, which was set in 1934.

Under normal circumstances, drought and increased temperatures are not necessarily connected, but scientists are now exploring the notion that heat can exacerbate dryness via increased evaporation and plant transpiration. Experts already acknowledge that dry conditions can exacerbate heat because when there’s little to no water to evaporate, the heat from the sun more effectively warms the air and the ground. The ridiculously resilient ridge that has prevented winter storms from dropping rain in California during recent years is caused by a system of high pressure that also contributes to warm weatherContinue reading

P.S. Don't miss "Drought Spurs Policy Changes," which came out this week!


"Harvest of Shame" Film Screening & Discussion, Sunday August 17, 4-7pm Vallejo

Well, our first event was a success, and so it's official, this is a series! Join us for another film event exploring "Just what is Fair Food?" Taking a nudge from our own multi-media production, "Fair Food - From Field to Table," we are hosting these events to bring films & advocates together, keeping the discussion going.

Next up is "Harvest of Shame,"  the groundbreaking 1960 documentary that shed light on real conditions for migrant farmworkers in the US on CBS television. "Presented by Dan Rather, Murrow's 'Harvest of Shame' is among the most famous television documentaries of all time. Richly photographed and arrestingly poignant, this long-acclaimed 1960 exposé on the plight of migrant farmworkers resonated deeply for a nation unfamiliar with such brutally honest depictions of living conditions that, as Murrow remarks, 'wrong the dignity of man.' Smartly televised to millions of Americans the day after Thanksgiving to better tap into their emotions, Murrow's indispensable classic led to permanent changes in the laws protecting workers' rights."

With the film setting the historical context, we'll then hear from two experts on current conditions, and find out what, really, has changed. We think all together it will make for a very dynamic event!

Our Special Guests Are:

Dr. Seth Holmes is a cultural and medical anthropologist, a physician, and the author of "Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies." A wonderful book, It "is an ethnographic witness to the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants. Based on five years of research in the field, traveling with and working with migrants, his book uncovers how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care." Seth will read from his book and take part in the question and answer session.

Paul Ramirez is a U.S. Department of Labor Investigator for the Wage & Hour Division. Paul grew up as a child farmworker in Brentwood, living with his family in farm labor camps. He really gives you an insiders perspective on how agricultural field investigations work, what hampers them, and a reality check on how investigators work very hard, with limited staff & resources. Since he has a deep personal connection to the farmworker community, his job as an investigator makes his story more stirring. Paul has a slide presentation, and will take part in the question and answer session. 

After the film we'll have a lively Q&A session with the guests and you! 

Our two local Slow Food chapters, Slow Food Delta Diablo & Slow Food Solano will again be partnering with us so you can expect some delicious taste treats! We'll also again have delicious popcorn from POP Mama POP! Come early or stay late to enjoy the hidden gem of the Bay Area, historic Mare Island. The Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve is on the Southern side of the Island, with sweeping views of the Bay, hiking trails, picnic areas and the oldest Naval Cemetery west of the Mississippi, with graves dating back to the 1860's. We'll be watching the movie in their Visitors Center - formerly a 1934 Ammunitions Bunker! The event is free & open to the public, though donations are gratefully accepted!


Eventbrite - "Harvest of Shame" A Fair Food - Field to Table Film Screening & Discussion




EPA Public Comment Deadline for Changes to Worker Protection Standard is August 18

On February 20, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed changes to the agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to increase protections from pesticide exposure for the nation's 2 million agricultural workers and their families. This is an important milestone for the farm workers who plant, tend, and harvest the food that we put on our tables each day. It’s been 20 years since the rules providing protections to farmworkers were updated. The new proposal is the result of numerous discussions across the country with farmworkers, farm owners, states and others on what is working, what is not, and what needs to be improved when it comes to the current rule. The opportunity to revise the rule may not come again for some time, so it is key to make your voice heard now. Follow this link for information on the prosed changes and how to make your comment.


Support Food Forward's Indiegogo Campaign!

Food Forward is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to rescue fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need and inspiring others to do the same. Since 2009, they have been harvesting fruit from backyards and public spaces in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. In 2012, they started collecting unsold produce from Los Angeles area farmers markets and early this year, we piloted our new Wholesale Recovery Program to collect otherwise wasted produce from the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market.

They have a new program, the Wholesale Recovery Program. This new program gathers viable produce donated by vendors from the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market (the second largest behind NYC) and distributes it free of charge to large hunger-relief organizations who in-turn distribute it to tens of thousands of people in need every single week. Operating only three days a week with borrowed vehicles, they’ve been able to rescue over 2 million pounds of 90-100% viable healthy produce in just 5 months.  That’s an average of 100,000 pounds per week. 

Rick Nahmias, the Founder and Executive Director of Food Forward is a great friend of CIRS, having directed, photographed and edited our multimedia documentary, “Fair Food – Field to Table.” He says, “To put it in perspective - this program is feeding 10x the number of people our other two programs are - combined! The crazy thing is we’ve been offered tons more fresh produce that we’ve had to turn down because of our very restricted vehicle access. Since the Wholesale Recovery Program exploded, with more power than we or our budget ever anticipated, we hope to raise the $40,000 to purchase the truck that will give this program the legs it needs to run.” They have launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, and need your support.  Here’s a couple of examples of how people's investments will impact them:

-A single $250 donation will allow us to secure one full truckload of 12,000 pounds of produce – at a cost of less than TWO CENTS PER POUND!  This same 12,000 lbs will fulfill the produce needs of OVER 200 food insecure families of four for one week. 

-The addition of this truck will allow us to go from an average of 6 market runs a week to 12-15 more – in effect doubling our recovery efforts. More information here




 Wood Colony - Hosting a Fair to Highlight their Plight

Wood Colony, in unincorporated Stanislaus County, has been under threat of annexation by the city of Modesto, and has been rallying local support to preserve their special part of California. What they see threatened is the loss of prime farmland, access to a prime water aquifer, and their community, in exchange for urban sprawl and unsubstantiated claims of new jobs.


In hopes of broadening support for their campaign, they are hosting the 1st Annual Wood Colony Fair & Colony Tour, on Saturday August 16th, “to invite the general public out to Wood Colony to see who we are and what we do.” It will be centered at the Hart-Ransom School, where you’ll get a map & guide, and there will be booths & music. Then you’ll take off to tour the colony and enjoy all its sites and events. CIRS will be there with an information booth, and we hope to see you there! More Information



It's Getting Hot!

Remember, when you realize you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so keep ahead of it and drink plenty of water. Stay safe!


Thank you for your continued support! 

Gail Wadsworth 

 Executive Director, California Institute for Rural Studies

 California Institute for Rural Studies
P.O. Box 1047, Davis, CA 95617


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