For college, he picked California Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo over the hill and majored in agriculture business. The Resnicks brought him aboard in , and now he works alongside Lynda and consults daily with the company chef. Five years ago, they decided to get rid of the nacho chips, french fries, and soft drinks.
The pizza dough is cauliflower, too. Everything about our physical selves, Lynda believes, begins in our guts. To change the microbial life in our digestive tracts and reduce inflammation that leads to disease, we have to reintroduce fermented foods into our diet. If the workers doubt the benefit of the enzymes from apple cider vinegar, video banners stream a continuous message of bad food habits to be broken and body mass indexes to be measured and met.
To manage the disease. That still leaves the majority of the workforce beyond his cajole. I had seen what J.
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Boswell had done for the town of Corcoran. What the Resnicks were doing for Lost Hills, though, was a level of philanthropy I had never witnessed in the valley. They were hardly the first rich people to use patronage to try to wheedle a citizenry toward their idea of a better life. This was Lost Hills, where the people are dependent on the Resnicks from cradle to grave.
As a second-generation Mexican American, Anzaldo says he knows the powerful clench of fast food and sugar among his own family.
Being healthy is a choice. Have we gone too far? During paid breaks, they do their 15 minutes of Zumba, take a walk along a designated path, and munch on the free fruits and veggies put out for them. Inside, a trainer watches over a line of treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes. On the whiteboard in front of the weights, the big boys list their totals. In the maroon of sundown, I follow the workers back to Lost Hills. Their houses made from railroad boxcars have been painted purple, blue, yellow, and gold.
The colors turn brilliant in the light made spectacular by the particles of dust. Down a rutted road, trailers with foundations dressed in plywood back up against an orchard. The people here have traveled too far. The junk scattered about could be a lot worse. It is the ditch up the road, the one that carries no water, that is filled with old mattresses and spent appliances. Twine strung trailer to trailer hangs with the laundry of fathers, mothers, and children. Here and there a mulberry tree, its canopy pruned back, breaks up the red-smeared sky.
A woman named Lupe is standing above me on the wooden stairway that climbs to the front door of her trailer.
She is small with lively brown eyes and a sweet but confident voice. Her husband, Manuel, will awaken in 30 minutes to prepare for his night shift. Under lights, he prunes, plows, and irrigates the almonds. Lupe and Manuel, like many of the residents, grew up next to each other in a pueblo called San Antonio deep in the state of Guerrero, a mountainous region of dramatic beauty. They were married only a short time when Manuel decided to cross the border almost 20 years ago.
He worked as a gardener in Los Angeles and then heard about the almond trees on the other side of the mountain where the living was so much cheaper.
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She remembers handing the boy to her sister-in-law, who carried phony papers, and watching them cross by bridge into California. Because Lupe had no papers, she followed the coyote for many more miles until they reached a steep pass. Lucky for her that the young man was kind. Before he left her to cross alone, he gave her soda, water, chips, and Cheetos.
The baby is now a year-old student at Bakersfield College. Lupe gave birth to two daughters, U. If she has her way, they will go to college, too. More than a dozen family members have followed Lupe and Manuel to Lost Hills. One cousin arrived only last week. A portion of his wages will be set aside each month to pay down the debt. It takes a lot of work to get ahead.
He spends much of his off hours fixing it up. He has painted the interior and put down two new patterns of linoleum, one to mark the living room and the other to mark the kitchen. The ceiling, all sheetrock and spackling, remains a work in progress. Lupe excuses herself to prepare dinner. The bowls on her kitchen table are filled with grapes, berries, bananas, and red and green bell peppers. She washes two kinds of lettuce and cuts up fresh papaya to mix into a salad.
I notice she keeps the water running for a long time. The family takes showers in it, and she washes their laundry in it, and if she runs the water long enough, she will use it to wash her vegetables and cook her rice and potatoes. But she cannot remember the last time she or Manuel or their children drank it.
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The water is filtered for arsenic, boron, and other salts, and the monthly tests show no violation of state or federal standards. Lupe says no one in her family, and none of her friends living in the trailer park or on the other side of town, drinks the water that comes out of the pipe. In the kitchen corner, cases of bottled water are stacked halfway up the wall. Her brother-in-law was killed recently in a car crash along Highway He was headed to the fields at the same time that another farmworker, drunk on beer, was coming home from the fields.
The sober man died. What to give a grieving widow and her five children in Lost Hills but drinking water?
They were farmers back in San Antonio, growing lettuce, cilantro, and radishes on a small plot of land. Then the drug cartels took over the countryside and planted poppies. One day, gunmen mowed down residents with AKs and threw grenades at the church filled with parishioners. He had left for the cornfields a few minutes before the killings.
That was four years ago.
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The relatives try not to press them, but the arrangement still feels like a form of indentured servitude. Selfo works 50 hours a week as an irrigator. The food is more. He wonders what agriculture will look like in western Kern in ten years. In one orchard, half the trees are dying. I had not seen any.
Lupe and I walk to the far side of the trailer park to find Gustavo. Lupe knocks on his door, and he invites us in.