Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fresno - The Belly of the Beast

Fresno, California: The number one producing agricultural county in the entire U.S. also happens to suffer from some of the highest percentages of obesity and type II diabetes. One out of every three children and 70% of adults in the valley are obese despite the fact that fruits and nuts, vegetables and livestock are the top three products (respectively), that the county grows. The place, the people, the history of food production and the current situation is as much a demonstration of how awry the American food system has become, as much as it has the greatest potential for change. (It ain't the fruit that's causing the weight gain. It's primarily corn syrup and processed foods.) If Fresno can meet more of it's food needs locally instead of exporting all of its' products, if residents can grow more fresh foods and start reversing the detriments of industrial food on human health and land, then other parts of the country stand a chance too. No pressure Fresno. We're all rooting for you!

Thanks to all the great organizations here in Fresno that have invited me to come down, Fresno Metro Ministry and the Fresno Community Garden Coalition. USDA and CCROPP are also sponsors of the first ever, contemporary community gardening conference in Fresno. 'Contemporary' because I reckon that people used to meet all the time to talk about food when gardening was second nature.


  1. Thanks for coming Temra. I was there too. As someone brand new to Fresno (3 weeks now), I was blown away by the statistics as well as the fact that an event like this was offered...and for free! I found the whole day inspiring and hopeful, if not a little sad that more people weren't in attendance. They capped the number at 150 but the census was lower than that. This should have been

  2. SRO. I learned a ton, as I had a baseline knowledge of zero. Thank you so much to all the sponsors. I know, for one, that I will be volunteering with Tom at the Ministry and available to Temra should she need anything in northern Cali, even though I'm unsure what specifically to offer. Best to all on the journey. - Jeannie Bertoli, bertoli@gmail.com

  3. I moved to Modesto from Oregon 2 years ago (Modesto is also in the valley) and I have seen this first hand. I go to our VERY limited farmers' markets, where I shop a selection of even more limited organic producers out of our minuscule hand full of growers located on two blocks downtown. I am sad for our community... for it is when I visit friends in Berkeley and attend their farmers' markets, I can find organic produce from our valley and stock up. That's right: drive 1.5 hours and then I can purchase organic produce grown 10 minutes from my house. It is so sad.