From 10,000 feet, Salinas resembles an uncut diamond in the middle of a patchwork quilt of lettuce fields. To journalist and author Claudia Meléndez Salinas, it says a lot about her adopted home: With the right perspective, Salinas holds gems that otherwise remain obscured.
“Salinas might not always seem pretty in the traditional sense,” Meléndez Salinas says while sitting at the Cherry Bean, a coffee shop in Oldtown Salinas. “But the history, hard work and resolve of the people, especially the Latino community, has made for a place with a strong cultural identity.”
The city of 160,000 is often overlooked by people who come to Monterey County to visit Cannery Row and the aquarium, the pastoral Carmel Valley and rugged, world-famous Big Sur. It’s widely known as the childhood home of and inspiration to Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck, as the source of most of the nation’s lettuce and leafy greens, and as a city long plagued by issues related to poverty.