The Salad Bowl of the World
Winds from the Pacific Ocean blow into the Salinas Valley from Monterey Bay. They travel in the same direction every morning, carving through the Santa Lucia and Gabilan Mountains like a glacier. They find their way in, even with the Santa Lucias to the west, concealing the valley from the sea.
The marine climate acts as a natural air conditioner, unlike neighboring towns that experience warmer, inland conditions. The climate, along with fertile soil allows Salinas to have a large and vibrant agriculture industry, justifying its nickname “The Salad Bowl of The World.”
While the breeze travels in, the Salinas River travels out. It flows freely down the center of the valley during winter months, but during the summer it remains underground, serving as an aquifer for the rich soil above.
The Salinas Valley is able to grow crops ranging from lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower to strawberries, wine grapes, and celery. As early as 2 a.m., field workers turn on their head lamps to plant and harvest crops. They walk through the fields for hours, cutting lettuce and picking fruit and snap peas so that the nation can enjoy fresh produce.
They have a lot of ground to cover. The total land devoted to agriculture in the Salinas Valley is approximately 1.6 million acres, while irrigated land is around 260,000 acres*.
Boasting a total crop value of over $4 billion, Monterey County is the fourth highest agricultural producing county in California. Head and leaf lettuce alone are valued well over $500 million, along with strawberries*. This is not surprising considering the Salinas Valley supplies approximately 80% of the country’s lettuce, broccoli, and artichokes.
The beauty of the Salinas Valley is enhanced by the ingenuity of its people. While Monterey was the birthplace of California, the Salinas Valley embodies its essence, with hardworking people that enjoy and appreciate the magic of the land. Although an ideal climate and fertile soil certainly help crops succeed, it is the growers’ knowledge and passion that leads to such large yields year after year.
Consumers both domestically and internationally enjoy the fruits of this valley’s labor every day, and hopefully will continue to do so for a long time to come.
*Source: 2018 Monterey County Crop Report, California Department of Food & Agriculture