On the way from Monterey to San Francisco we paused in the Salinas Valley. If anything can trump Carmel Valley it is this valley, known as “the salad bowl of the United States”. Salinas was the hometown of John Steinbeck and the national John Steinbeck museum brings to life his books on the region. I chuckled on his comments when he revisited Carmel later in life: “And Carmel, begun by starveling writers and unwanted painters, is now a community of the well-to-do and the retired. If Carmel’s founders should return, they could not afford to live there, but it wouldn’t go that far. They would be instantly picked up as suspicious characters and deported over the city line.” (Travels with Charley: in search of America circa 1960). Little has changed during the intervening past 50 years.
Apparently over 80% of the lettuce grown in the United States is grown in the Salinas Valley. Temperatures are cool and moderate with typical daily highs ranging from around 52 F in the winter to around 72 F in the summer – who could ask for more? Although rainfall is modest, irrigation needs are provided by the Salinas River. Nearby Castroville is known as the artichoke center of the world. Though there may be some puffery in the salad bowl and artichoke claims, the magnificence of these growing locations cannot be refuted.