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Thursday, 25 September 2008

Ventura County - land of bounty

Driving through Ventura county, it's not hard to see why dining out in California is such a pleasant experience. There are lush valleys of fresh produce everywhere! We drove through orange groves (there is something so bizarre about seeing an orange actually growing on a tree), avodaco groves and almond groves. We passed endless fields of green and red lettuce growing in neat rows, and marvelled at the enormous open backed trucks filled to the brim with shiny red tomatoes. D even pulled over at one point so I could pick a cotton ball out of a cotton field, and took me on an impromptu (and uninvited) tour of a roadside almond factory.

The only troublesome thing about all this lovely food is the amount of water it takes to irrigate it. Thousands of acres must be regularly sprinkled in order to keep them from turning into their crusty brown cousins - the stark, burnt-looking hills that lie just to the west of all the farmland. Every hotel or restaurant we visited from Monterey onwards had little signs saying "water is precious" or "water shortage," and urged us to conserve by not ordering a glass of water unless we really wanted it, or to reuse our towels until they got unbearable.

A bit of a paradox, and one I'm not sure how to reconcile, especially since I ate my fill of heirloom tomatoes and gorged on avocadoes the whole time I was in California.

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