Bordeau talks about the wonderful California conditions for growing food, and supplying America’s one-third veggies and two-thirds fruit. But we know from observation that growers in the SJV do not give a fuck about producing table food for Californians, or Americans. To a first approximation, they care about maximizing profits* over providing important food. We know this because in the last ten years, when growers had a choice between growing table food, like fruits and vegetables, they declined in favor of growing an irrelevant snack. They have converted from growing table staples to growing breakfast cereal filler to the tune of 1.5M acres, out of 9M acres. More than another million acres grows animal feed, some for export. They grow shit like sudan grass for Japanese beef, rather than, for examples, lentils. They ship animal feed to Saudi Arabia. Whether the plantation growers are growing “food” is a distant second to maximizing profits.
They might argue that they are not personally terrible people, but that they are instead, trapped in a terrible system. The logic of capitalism forces them to be, at least, profitable. From there it is a tiny step to prioritizing profit over everything else! Everything else! Like living rivers! And whether people are hungry! And full aquifers! I agree! If the priority is ‘feeding hungry people’, we should not have a capitalist agricultural system.
If our agriculture weren’t capitalist, we wouldn’t be caught in the ‘low wages require cheap food and cheap food squeezes the life out of farm workers and animals” bind. We wouldn’t keep expanding beyond the limits of our rate-limiting resource. I was getting at some of this in an old post, but at the time, I couldn’t think beyond ‘our current system a little different’. Now I just want a different system, without rich growers turning our rivers into their private wealth while pretending they’re providing something valuable.