California is in trouble — as probably everybody in the world should know by now. Headlines everywhere (even Fox News — gasp!) are bleating about California’s governor Jerry Brown imposing new mandatory water restrictions due to a drought that is historically epic. How significant are these restrictions? He is calling on 25 percent water consumption reductions from cities and communities — of course the big businesses (and most responsible drought contributors) in the oil, natural gas, and agriculture industries are mostly exempt from these reductions (surprise, surprise).
I, like many here in the Northeast, have been so bombarded by snow and rain in the past few months it is hard for me to even imagine a drought.
But, thank God for passionate environmental writers who are painting a pretty vivid picture of it — like
Although it shouldn’t be our responsibility to deal with this drought, why can’t we do our part to not make it worse?
Many cities like San Francisco in California are seeing no rain at all during their rainy season — For the first time in history, San Fran saw NO rain (0″) at all in January — the average is 4.6 inches, and the city saw as much as 14.5 inches in 1914.
Oh don’t worry — our precious Hollywood stars should be OK according to Holthaus, who writes that agriculture accounts for 80 percent of Calif’s water consumption — it is an important source of food for the U.S.
1. ALMONDS: These are sucking as much as 10 percent of all the agricultural water from California — yikes! Roughly 2,100 gallons of water are needed for just one pound of shelled almonds. Admittedly, I was (and still am) totally obsessed with the taste of these football shaped bites of bliss. I actually thought almond milk was beneficial for the environment since it has less of an impact than cows milk. After doing some research, boy did I find out I was wrong! But at least there is hemp and coconut milk to turn to instead. If you are not yet addicted to almonds, please don’t be like me and find alternatives!!!
2. ALFALFA: I don’t mean the adorable, cowlick-sporting boy from The Little Rascals,
— I mean the plan that is water intensive and highly exported to China from California. It is highly nutritious, however, so I recommend trying to find it from more local sources for a delicious salad addition.
3. RICE: This is called the “thirstiest” of crops in a recent The Daily Beast article. It’s production in California declined by 25 percent in 2014, according to the article.
4. BEEF: This should probably go without saying, but why not beat a dead horse when America is still obsessed with eating these poor unknowing climate-killers. It takes nearly 1,875 gallons to produce one pound of beef, in Cali and anywhere. However, pasture grass used to fatten livestock in California is actually increasing. Um — if there is not enough water for human food, why do we think there will be enough for cows that can weigh over 1,000 pounds?
5. PISTACHIOS: Unfortunately I am nuts over these salty gems, but I’m more salty over the fact that their production has increased by 118 percent in Cali despite the increasing intensity of the state’s drought. They are a drought-rugged little nut, however their water consumption is often lumped in with that of almonds — why make a bad situation worse? If your best friend was dating a horrible person, would you want to start dating that person’s slightly-nicer brother? I wouldn’t.
Here is a bonus! But it is an obvious one — CORN! Oh, what could be so bad about those golden kernels of deliciousness? In Cali, corn is among the 60% of “ground-cover” crops that generate only around 14% of revenues for the state of California — and Cali needs all the money it can get to deal with this crisis — (it’s only the most precious natural resource).
Hope this was enlightening. However, don’t just think limiting these five foods from California will do much. Remember that climate change, not just overwatering crops, is what is causing California’s real issues — they have only seen 12 percent of the average snowpack (out of 100 % folks — NOT GOOD) Come the hot and dry summer, I have a feeling California residents, or at least farmers, will be missing the 15 million acre-feet of water that snowpack usually provides on a yearly basis.
Let’s not make their anguish worse by buying up any products from California — at least at the moment. Yes, this will be difficult. But it will be more difficult when California residents turn on their taps and no water comes out.
Plus, who knows what this could mean for the hundreds of thousands of California residents needing water — they could hightail it to our areas where there is water. So if you are a selfish person who really doesn’t care about the welfare of others, know that there could be more competition on your own water source (everybody needs water and the government has got to provide it somehow).
Oh, and don’t forget some of the best wineries in the world are in California. Even if you don’t like wine, you can at least pretend to be classy by saying you are helping to conserve water because you love a nice rich California dry red. Just sayin’.