My article on unaccompanied immigrant farmworker youth in California's Central Valley is out this month in the great Vice Magazine: http://m.vice.com/read/the-lost-boys-of-california-0000258-v21n3
This reporting was funded by the 11th Hour Food & Farming Journalism Fellowship at UC Berkeley, where I had the immense fortune of working with Michael Pollan, Malia Wollan, an inspiring team of fellow fellowesses, and guest editors Jack Hitt and Alan Burdick. It was like winning the lottery.
For all its bounty, there’s something about the landscape of California’s Central Valley that feels diseased. Just a few miles from Ernesto’s house in Mendota, the air is a heavy brown-gray, polluted by the trucks that pass through on Highway 99, carrying produce to be packed and shipped and stocked onto shelves at Safeways and Hannafords across the country. The pollution clouds the rays of light that shine on the fields, smudging the horizon lines and the silhouettes of crops. The fields, too, in towns like Mendota and Huron and Raisin City, feel exquisitely toxic. As productive as they are, and as heavy with bloom and fruit, the plants are subtly listless in their rows and rows, lacking vibrancy. It’s a battered landscape, excavated and plucked and pumped for every last bit it can give.
Photo Credit: Matt Black