What do baseball, a little-known religious group and a land-use fight have in common? Nuts. Almonds are Stanislaus County’s top crop, bringing in a record-breaking $1.125 billion in gross income in 2013. Walnuts came in third (after dairy). Nuts aren’t just an economic driver, though. They’re also key to the story of this region’s past, and future.
San Bernardino’s Mitla Cafe is proof that sometimes a restaurant is more than just a restaurant. Since the 30s, it’s borne witness to — and played a role in — political change, from desegregation to “urban renewal” to fast food. It also happens to be an unlikely inspiration for how mainstream America sees — and eats — Mexican food.
It’s said that date palm trees want their feet in water, and their heads in fire. It makes sense, then that more than 90% of U.S. dates grow in the irrigated Eastern Coachella Valley, with 120+ degree temperatures. This is a story about agricultural explorers, racist agri-tourism, and the palmeros, palm workers, who tend the trees.