Martin Lopez Diaz knows the scene well. A pickup rolls up to a rural house as the afternoon wanes, and out leap five, 10, a dozen men who immediately break into a run.
Fresh from the farm fields where they've worked all day, they want to be first in the shower, first at the stove to cook what is often a starchy dinner fried in lard and washed down with sugary energy drinks.
That's the sort of food regimen that helps drive the San Joaquin Valley's high obesity and diabetes rates.
It's something he has vowed to change -- preferably at the UC Merced School of Medicine, if it opens soon enough to train him. Lopez Diaz, 35, oversees a program that literally delivers health information to farmworkers as they pick tomatoes, lettuce and other crops throughout the Merced area.
At night, he studies for premedical courses at Merced College. He's determined to go to medical school and maybe business school so that he can open a clinic aimed at improving health care for Valley residents.
-- Deborah Schoch