As an environmental activist, writer and researcher in the 1970s and then later when I became a board member of the Metropolitan Water District in the 1980s, I would often encounter and always enjoyed interacting with George Ballis, a smart, ornery, tough player in the world of farm labor and food politics. At the time I connected with George, he headed up a group called National Land for People, which today we would call a food justice organization for its advocacy on behalf of farm workers and small farm and family farmer interests, and its strong corporate critique of the evolving industrial agriculture system.
When I became involved in water politics, I came to recognize and appreciate George’s continually challenging water subsidies for large agricultural interests that was part of his small farm advocacy. A terrific photographer with a mean wit and a powerful social justice voice, including his later role as a peace activist around Central American interventions, George was someone hard to ignore. His death a few weeks ago at the age of 85 was a loss for food justice though he remains an inspiration for the good fight that continues.