We’d probably like to think that clean, safe food goes hand in hand
with pristine nature, with lots of wildlife and clean water. But in the
part of California that grows a lot of the country’s lettuce and
spinach, these two goals have come into conflict.
advocates say a single-minded focus on food safety has forced growers
of salad greens to strip vegetation from around their fields, harming
wildlife and polluting streams and rivers.
heart of this conflict is the Salinas Valley, on California’s central
coast. And my guide to the valley, on this beautiful spring day, is Daniel Mountjoy, an ecologist with a nonprofit organization called Sustainable Conservation.
“I just love the drive down through here,” Mountjoy says, as we head
southeast from Castroville, the self-proclaimed “Artichoke Center of the