CIRS Blog about Rural California
Danielle Boule, George Hubert, Anna Jensen, Alannah Kull, Julia Van Soelen Kim, Courtney Marshall, Kelsey Meagher and Thea Rittenhouse
This report was prepared by a team of graduate students at UC Davis in the spring of 2011 for the Yolo Ag and Food Alliance (AFA). The objective was to examine the plausibility of creating a food hub in Yolo and Solano Counties. To achieve this, the UC Davis research team explored recent trends in food hubs across the country and conducted a food system assessment of the two counties to provide a context for how and whether a food hub might be situated.
The following excerpts are from Chapter Nine of the new book: Food Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform Our Food System, edited by Eric Holt-Giménez, Executive Director of Food First. The chapter from which these sections were taken is the result of an in-depth interview with Lucas Benítez from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). The entire book examines the power of people to transform our food systems. It argues that the global food movement is as creative and powerful as it is diverse and widespread. Twenty-one authors from across the globe come together in this book to examine strategies for uniting efforts to create a powerful “movement of movements.” The goal of their work is to bring healthy, affordable food to the world’s population that neither harms people nor planet. The authors address the corporatization of our food regime and offer practical and political approaches to change that are committed to democracy, justice, sustainability and food sovereignty. In short, this book is a roadmap to a brighter food future drawn by some of the most visionary activists on the planet.
How would US fresh fruit and vegetable producers respond to higher labor costs? Case studies suggest that there would be labor-saving mechanization in commodities such as raisin grapes and higher prices in strawberries. Weather is the single most important factor affecting fresh fruit and vegetable trade, but labor and transportation costs also shape trade patterns. Affluence created a demand for fresh fruits and vegetables year-round, and new seeds and better storage enabled producers to supply commodities year round. Rising wages can prompt labor-saving mechanization instead of rising imports. Vegetables are far more mechanized than fruits— about 75 percent of US vegetable and melon tonnage is machine harvested, but less than half of the fruit tonnage. There was significant interest in mechanization in the 1960s and 1970s, when the end of the Bracero program and the rise of unions led to rapid increases in farm wages.