For nearly a century, California's verdant lands have been essential to providing America's tables with their fruits and vegetables. For example, a single farm in the Central Valley, the epicenter of California's abundance, provides 85% of America's carrots. In the Central Valley, the sun shines over 300 days a year and the land consists of the largest continuous patch of Class 1 soil (the most fertile kind) anywhere on Earth.
In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck wrote, "All of California quickens with produce, and the fruit grows heavy." Well, perhaps not for long. Today, the future seems bleak. Wells are running dry. The decades of water misuse are beginning to add up. The thousands and thousands of workers who come to work in the fields to produce food have been left waiting in lines just to be given their daily meals, from the food bank.
As one farmer says, "Point blank: we don't know what to do."
Photographers Matt Black and Ed Kashi compiled this powerful video report about the Central Valley to document the ongoing struggles of the farmers and workers there. Video courtesy of The New Yorker.