Consumers may pay more for spring lettuce and summer melons in grocery stores across the country now that California farmers have started abandoning their fields in response to a crippling drought.
This reminds me of Kunstler’s rant about the ‘3,000-mile salad.’ We rely on areas like California’s Central Valley for fruits & vegetables more than most Americans realize. Economies of scale are great when they work in our favor, but the flip side is that when these huge farms fail to deliver the crops we expect from them, we have few other options to explore.
This is also starting to bring water resource conflicts to the front of the news as well:
With such a grim outlook, many California farmers including Giacone are investing millions to drill down hundreds of feet in search of new water sources.
Depending on how much it rains this winter, federal water supplies could be slashed down to nothing this year, forcing farmers to rely solely on brackish well water. But the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation won’t make an official decision until late February, said Ron Milligan, the agency’s Central Valley operations manager.
Since it isn’t raining, farmers that are trying to stay in business are drilling further and further down to find & drain underground reservoirs. For those that may not know, the term ‘brackish’ indicates that there’s more salt in the water than in normal freshwater, which means that in order to survive, the farmers are increasing the salinity in their fields by irrigating from this source… extracting perhaps more yields over the next few years but drastically reducing the long-term fertility of the fields.
It’s been a cold winter here, but one of the things I’m thankful for is that I live in a state with abundant fresh water… assuming we can stop polluting it.