Question and Answer interview with Ken and Melanie Light on their book Valley of Shadows and Dreams.
There are many issues related to California’s Central Valley that have been in the news recently. Topics such as social justice, farmworker health and labor conditions, immigration and its role in labor fluctuations/shortages, how pesticides are affecting drainwater and the health of people and animals living in the Valley and the ability of lawmakers to shift the future of agriculture in the country. This post is a collection of these issues. Hopefully this will be an opportunity to learn more about a topic you were unaware of, or a chance to learn more about issues currently influencing the region.
The debate over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) is heating up in California and across the nation. According to a recent New York Times article, more than twelve states are proposing bills that would require the labeling of food containing GMO's. The biggest battle is slated to take place in California, where the organization California Right to Know announced that they collected "971,126 signatures for the state's first-ever ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically engineered foods." The article in the New York Times states that "tens of millions of dollars are expected to be spent on the election showdown" in California.
According to the California Right to Know 2012 Ballot Initiative official website: "The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act is simple: The initiative would require food sold in retail outlets such as grocery stores (not including restaurants) to be labeled if it is produced with genetic engineering. In addition to this disclosure, genetically engineered foods are prohibited from being advertised as 'natural.'"
However, the fight over the ballot initiative in November may not be so simple. A recent blog post on "The Salt," National Public Radio's (NPR) food blog, suggests that the legislation may cause more confusion than clarity for Californians. "A new analysis of the labeling initiative suggests that if it passes, it would create a complex mandate for food companies that may make it harder — not easier — for consumers to figure out what's really in their food. That's because the initiative muddies the definition of a "natural" food."
"Valley of Shadows and Dreams" documents the conflicting reality for people living in California's Central Valley. Photographer Ken Light and author Melanie Light began the project in 2006, during the housing boom that swept through the region, and their reporting continued throughout the recent economic crisis that is still affecting millions of people in the state. The Lights uncover the experiences of the often forgotten people who work and live in the valley and their pursuit of the California Dream. The Rural California Report interviewed Ken and Melanie Light about their project.
(Image by Ken Light)
Valley of Shadows & Dreams, Heyday, 2012
Photographs By Ken Light & Text by Melanie Light
Forward by Thomas Steinbeck