Entering the Central Valley of CA

What a transition, or lack of transition. We went straight from misty green hills to dry brown hills to plain old desert to desert spotted with artifically green farmland. The reason I say it is artificial is because I know that crops weren’t meant to grow here. Water has to be trapped and routed down concrete channels toward the fake farms in order for these things to grow. California is full of reservoirs. It has been this way for decades. No one questions the logic. But I have to.


turns this




into this




Mostly we have seen almond trees, lots of them, mile after mile of them. I love almonds but I had no idea that they would grow in such poor soil. There’s been a little corn here and there and one or two grape fields, but up to this point along highway 5 through central California it is almonds. There are signs everywhere accusing congress of creating a dust bowl here. I guess they are limiting the amount of water that can be used on these farms that really shouldn’t be here anyway. I don’t know the whole story since I refuse to get involved in the drama but something seems upside down here. It’s a strange, discombobulating place for someone who feels connected to the land and the cycles of nature. Here nature is controlled. Almond groves grow out of dirt that looks like sand in a desert. If I was buying land with the intention of growing something I would walk away from this land as quickly as I could, but that’s just me. 

Harris Ranch: Meat Eaters’ Heaven; Cow Hell

So, we drove only a couple of hours today and ended up at a place called Harris Ranch. It is a “famous” restaurant that serves “top quality beef.” I’m not convinced since just a mile down the road I saw about ten thousand cows huddled together in a dusty black field divided by a maze of fences. They all looked dirty and confused, and not happy at all. I assume they are not grass fed since there is no grass for a hundred miles of here. I’ll probably have a salad tonight and go to sleep with a clear conscience.

I’m pretty disturbed by this area. When we first came to California I was excited beyond belief at the abundance of produce to be found at the little roadside stands. But at the same time I saw the desert posing as farmland and knew that something was wrong. I’m sorry that it’s so hard for farm workers to make a living here, and I’m sorry that there isn’t enough water for everyone to grow what they want to grow, but it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that this is not farmland. It is desert. Why not just let it be desert?

And that is my social commentary for the day.


  1. Just the beginning of new reality. Things are not what they seem.

  2. It’s a perspective that I share. Great post.

    • I think one of the best parts of traveling is the opportunity to see how other people live and to appreciate what we have. I must admit, I already miss the redwoods. C’est la vie!

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