When I was in college, we had an expression for the phenomenon which occurred the morning after drinking a few too many beers. You know, that tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth feeling? The parch.
It’s a silly beginning to a serious topic; please accept my apologies. I was up half the night reading about this problem and trying to determine what was true and what was show business for the Tee Vee news. The puppets picked up the story over the weekend and flew it out there to see if it would be good for ratings. The situation had all the ingredients of a trending news story–starvation, impending doom, political strife, and class envy.
The current sitting president even made an appearance. Maybe that was what made it news, but the fact remains that there is a very serious drought in California.
Parts of Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah have been experiencing drought conditions, too, some areas for more than two years. Farmer friends I know in Texas started selling off their cattle in 2012 due to the drought.
As a local food crank, I try to buy all of my food from local farmers, farmers markets, or small grocers. The only things I buy in big grocery stores these days are toilet paper and dish detergent. I am fortunate and grateful I can live this way; it may not always be possible. Do I buy food from California? Yes, I do. I buy walnuts, raisins, and almonds. I have noted the price jumps on jars of almond butter at my local health food store; it’s not an item I need or want, but the regular and rapid price increase catches my attention.
As I researched the drought, the statistic that astounded me was the one that said eighty to ninety percent of the lettuce and greens consumed in the United States come from California. Similar percentages of California peaches, strawberries, and plums delight snow-weary Eastern shoppers. The list of foods from California is long and includes tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, cantaloupes, garlic, peppers, and corn. How did we get so dependent on one state for our daily bread? As Joel Salatin might say, “folks, this ain’t normal.”
It’s probably not sustainable, either.
Many farmers in California are not planting their fields this year. If the drought continues, prices for the fresh fruit and vegetables most consumers buy in their local grocery stores will continue to rise.
Wages for most people with jobs are not going up.
I’m sorry to be a clanging gong this morning. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last ten years thinking about how unsustainable many aspects of modern living are for people with incomes that do not increase exponentially. Who am I to tell consumers they can’t have what they want? If consumers want avocados, they are free to buy avocados; this is America, right? All I’m saying is that in the future, avocados may cost a lot of money, if they’re available at all.
Think about your food today and where it comes from.