When I left for a week of reporting in rural California in late February, I didn't know I would come back with two stories about the devastating health consequences of isolation.
I'm not just talking about the geographic isolation one finds in a remote area. From the hilly evergreen landscape of eastern Shasta County, to the agricultural flatlands of Tulare County in the South Central Valley, I witnessed how isolation can leave people in the dark about keeping healthy, lead to emotional despair, and pose real barriers to quality of life.
A painful irony exists in California’s agricultural heart: farm workers, far too often, don’t have access to the fruits of their own labor.
I thought about this irony, more than a year ago, when I first read about the massive drought relief food give-aways in the San Joaquin Valley. In recent years, demand at the food bank in Fresno County has increased four-fold. The State of California has spent millions on food aid to the region. And hunger is hitting a new set of people.