National Geographic : 1991 Feb
troubles him that his kinship with the land is being called into question by Hollywood movie stars and others who can command wide attention. "It bothers me a great deal when people like Meryl Streep talk about pesticides when they don't know the facts," he said. The actress has been outspoken on the use of chemicals in agriculture, which has cast her as a pariah among many of the farmers in the Central Valley. But they are aware of the growing strength and influence of environ mentalists across the country, and that is enough to start the engines of change. "We can understand the concern that the consumer has, and we do want to cut down on pesticides," Geringer said. "And we have started to do that. Farmers are going to get away from chemicals, but it will take time." Indeed, programs of integrated pest man agement have been initiated from one end of the valley to the other. In these the amounts of chemicals are decreased while other, non chemical controls are stepped up. Oilpumps first sprouted around Bakersfield a hundred years ago. Today "grasshoppers"help Kern County produce about 65 percent of the state's crude.