A Misunderstood City, Full of Aspirations

Through Years of Filming Salinas, a Documentarian Saw How Hard People Work to Improve Their Lives

Brown salinas Angel at his college graduation

These are the three things I knew about Salinas, California, growing up an hour north in the Silicon Valley: gangs, John Steinbeck, and agriculture.

Steinbeck was often required reading in California schools. But I never made the connection between the fields of lettuce and strawberries I read about in his books and the food I ate. Nor were the people who picked the food, many of them immigrant and Latino, part of my consciousness, even though my mother and her siblings had made sacrifices to come from South America to …

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