This Stanford Ph.D. Became A Fruit Picker To Feed California’s Hungry

SpoonFed: Via NPR


Ramirez grew up in Pixley, Calif., a rural town that John Steinbeck described in The Grapes of Wrath. She went on to earn a Ph.D. at Stanford and become Tulare County’s epidemiologist, where she noticed some troubling trends: high rates of diabetes and obesity, paired with widespread food insecurity.

Ramirez says she noticed that a lot fruit in the region went unharvested. “And yet, at the same time, we have hunger and food insecurity,” she says. “And it seems like we should be able to put a need with a surplus. Let’s put the pieces together.”

Ramirez says she wanted to take action. So she decided to give up the prestige of a high-powered career to return to her roots, to the kind of work that her parents, who labored in the fields, tried to make sure she’d never have to do. [...] read more

“One of our team members says I should be wearing a t-shirt that says, ‘I have a Ph.D. and I pick fruit,’ ” Ramirez says.