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Photo: California's Central Valley Is a Dust Bowl Feast Your Eyes: California's Central Valley Is a Dust Bowl Photo: California's Central Valley Is a Dust Bowl Feast Your Eyes: California's Central Valley Is a Dust Bowl

Photo: California's Central Valley Is a Dust Bowl Feast Your Eyes: California's Central Valley Is a Dust Bowl

by Peter Smith
February 26, 2011

Midway between Hollywood and Silcon Valley, in the richest state in the union, is an exceptional place—a place where men cool off in irrigation ditches, a place where an invisible, underclass toils in a reclaimed dessert to produce 90 percent of the nation’s lettuce. And despite the abundance of almonds, tomatoes, and cantaloupes in the Central Valley, the bread lines here can stretch around the block.

The Westlands is home to the nation’s largest and richest farms—some cover more than ten square miles and rake in millions of dollars each year—but it is also home to some of the poorest towns in California.

The March issue of Orion draws our attention to this overlooked region in a striking series of black-and-white film photographs from the documentary photographer Matt Black. As the Los Angeles Times wrote, Black calls The Valley home and he spent over a decade on the project. His tireless persistence has paid off by bringing us so close to the forgotten people responsible for our food. It's a poignant story that every one should really see.

Photo: Matt Black/Orion magazine.

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