Eating is essential to life. But what are the costs – economic, social, environmental – that impact the sustainability of our food system? Join us on this new tour as we confront the issues that are so pertinent to food production. Big-Ag versus small, independent farmers, the distribution of water, California’s uniquely unregulated groundwater policy and its policy of pushing the water supply past its limit. We will look at the meaning of food justice and the seemingly unrelated, but not, issues of hunger and obesity. We will examine the role today of the wide variety of ethnic groups that came to California in search of a new life, the life of the migrant workers and the fires that regularly burn across California, blanketing swaths of the state in smoke and creating another challenge to our food supply.

Our program will begin in the fertile and agriculturally important Salinas, “the Salad Bowl of the World”, known for its production of lettuce, broccoli, peppers and numerous other crops. This is Steinbeck country and we will meet with farmers, large and small, learn of innovative new practices, understand the cannabis industry, which is expected to pump close to $20 billion into the state’s economy in 2021, and talk with the anonymous workers who harvest, package, and ship all the produce – they are the forgotten and ignored backbone of this industry.

We will travel east to the Central Valley, America’s fruit bowl, and the heart of California’s $50bn agriculture industry where carefully chosen voices will share their experiences including John Kirkpatrick, who has been the only significant U.S. grower of etrog citrons for religious use (under rabbinical supervision) for more than 30 years. The Central Valley is home to the U.S. raisin industry, the entirety of which is crammed into a few hundred square miles. This is a surprisingly political and intensely complicated industry. It is also home of California’s dairy industry and we will have the chance to learn about a program to install dairy digester renewable fuel that will take the methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than CO2, and convert it to a renewable compressed natural gas for vehicles.  

Our program ends in Los Angeles, stopping first at Apricot Lane Farms, the farm featured in the documentary The Biggest Little Farm. Here we will also examine issues around food justice and the role of urban farms.  

This tour is still in development. To be among the first to receive complete details, email us at travels@thenation.com