Volume 8, Week 34, April 12-18, 2015
**Last week’s column continued**
So the set-up was like this. A cozy room at a top hotel in Fresno with around 50 mostly Bay Area philanthropic types who’d come to investigate what could be done with our area’s high unemployment. Like all of us, they brought their worldview with them and were trying hard to force reality to conform.
Business casual (everything but the tie) was the dress code but for me that meant blue jeans, work shirt, Carhart jacket, and a pair of pliers on my belt.
They asked me (who knows why) to come and represent the farmer’s viewpoint ,so I trepidatiously obliged.
I laid out the challenges on many levels as well as the solutions as best I could; namely, diverting farm water to the sea during a drought had idled over a million of the world’s most productive acres which caused there to be a lot less jobs not only in production, but all of the affiliated industries and all avenues of conserving existing supply while creating additional supplies through desalinization should be pursued.
I think what sent the room into a buzz was the suggestion that all uses should be responsible for outcome.
Oh my goodness!
One fellow stood; madder’n a wet hen to say there shouldn’t be irrigated farming in the San Joaquin Valley; that we were raping the environment, poisoning the planet, and oppressing the poor. I could tell by the nodding heads that several shared his view; whoa.
This view of farming was eye opening to me, because it didn’t fit reality. We aren’t just conservation-minded; we walk our talk every day. I tried to explain we could easily have fish and farms. That present technology, coupled with an upgraded version of our grandparents’ distribution system could restore California to the world’s agricultural envy while reducing environmental impact, but by this time the lines were drawn. I was severely shaken and just needed air. In all fairness, a few did meet me at the door to express support and appreciation.
I share that story to illustrate how polarized some are. We always have to understand before we can be understood and I was trying my best to walk in their shoes.
I know in advance there will be many angry emails coming my way as a result of this note, but I also know something very true. This box goes to 160+ communities from one end of the state to the other: wealthy and poor, well-watered and dry. Some are to the right of John Birch and others to the left of Mao tse Tung. All these varied worldviews enjoying the same box of organic produce; so I know we’re not nearly as divided as we’re led to believe, so here goes.
A $100 billion bullet train in a drought is like a fur coat in Vegas. Our agrarian forebears understood this environment a whole lot better than we do and took measures to prepare. We have vastly greater abilities now to not only conserve, but to create new water sources.
The USA is a net food importing country, in other words, we import more than we export, or bottom line, we don’t even feed ourselves. When I was in school, we took great pride in not only feeding ourselves but the world, and 25 percent of that high value production came from California. I honestly believe our former position can be restored and that a very large part of the increased production can be organic.
Some believe resources are static and you having more means I have less. You can tell from the name of this company and looking in this box that we believe in abundance—there’s plenty for everyone—if we all work together for the greater good, but everyone must be held accountable for good results, not just good intentions. It’s going to take good courageous leaders held accountable to good courageous results to get us there.