CIRS Blog about Rural California
Interviews with female farm workers were conducted by Vallerye Mosquera and Luis Magana in 2011. The stories below were excerpted from three of these interviews and edited by Gail Wadsworth for posting here.
We’ve all heard the drumbeat from nutrition experts: Eat more fruits and vegetables. We know this advice is good for our health. But what does it mean for our land—and for the farmers who grow food on our land?
With obesity rates at epidemic levels, easier access to fruits and vegetables is important, especially in low-income neighborhoods where healthy options can be hard to find. But ramping up demand for affordable produce means stepping up production, which means more demand on land and water.
How we use these resources will affect our environment and communities for years to come. We need to find new ways to protect both human health and the health of our land long into the future.
California is at the leading edge of demographic change in the United States, as the state’s cities, suburbs, and rural towns are inhabited by millions of foreign-born, and their children, who now account for half of California’s population. Many of these groups have been around for generations and have influenced California’s culture—from its arts and politics to its customs and cuisine. Yet, these same groups are often scapegoated when it comes to the state’s sluggish economy, overburdened hospitals, or underperforming schools. The numbers, however, do not tell the full story of how these Californians are shaping the physical and cultural landscape of the state.
Beginning farmers face a number of serious barriers. This narrative in the first person explains some of those and offers solutions from the perspective of Neysa King, a young farmer.
I began my blog Dissertation to Dirt in May 2009. I was hoping to answer a single question: can young Americans make a career of farming?
The Salinas Valley, in Monterey County, with dark, rich soils highlighted by contrasting rows of greens invokes a picture perfect image of California agriculture. It has been nicknamed "the salad bowl of the United States," and grows an abundance of fresh greens and fruit. Despite this seeming abundance, the Salinas Valley is not a stranger to poverty and hunger.
Monterey County is the third highest grossing agricultural crop producing county in the US, with sales of more than $4 billion in 2010. Despite this agricultural bounty, Monterey County has the highest rate of adults in food insecure households out of all California counties, with a ranking of 58th in the state. There are approximately 51,000 individuals, or 49% of adults, in this county with incomes lower than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level who are food insecure.
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.