They say that California is experiencing one of the 10 worst droughts in over 500 years. They say that the drought in the west is comparable to that of the Dust Bowl, which devastated the United States food supply for nearly a decade in a time when America was already at its worst. From all accounts, we’re going to see food prices rise at least 10% in the next few months, and if the drought persists, we could see prices rise even more than that.
So, for most people, California is nothing more than LA, Disneyland, San Francisco, and there is some wine in there, somewhere, but for those who are paying attention, California produces nearly 50% of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables produced in the United States, including over 90% of the almonds, olives, raisins, walnuts, grapes and many other household items are grown by some of the over 80,000 California farms.
Never in my lifetime has it been more important to rethink the American food system. Not since the victory garden has growing ones own food as a supplement to buying only locally grown produce, meats, and dairy products been as important.
Here, in Upstate, NY, we are fortunate to have some of the greatest crop diversity in the country. I like to think that it’s due to our deep, rich soil, as well as the changing seasons. With a close-knit agricultural community, dozens of farmers markets throughout the entire region, including in our cities, everyone has the opportunity to buy local produce at prices comparable to that of the big chains, yet much fresher. Along with farmers markets, grocers featuring local fresh produce, meats, and dairy, such as Hart’s Local Grocers in Rochester, NY, are opening to give people throughout the cities more options than they would have at chains, who import a majority of their food from California, Texas, Idaho, and other western, south western, and mid western producers who are heavily influenced by the drought, which are giving the shopper an overall higher bill.
Here are the top 5 things we can do in Rochester, NY, and anywhere else, to make it through the drought in California
Buy Local. I don’t say it enough. If I did, no one would be shopping at Walmart. Buying local ensures not only economic stability and sustainability, but environmental and social, as well.
Grow your own food. I know people have all sorts of excuses as to why they don’t grow their own food, but as a friend of mine said to me back in my Army days, “Scott, an excuse is like an asshole. Everyone has one and they all small like shit.” Thank you, Cpl. Davidson. You’re the man.
Share. If you grow too much, share with your neighbors. Chances are, they could use some fresh tomatoes! I know Terry next door loves our garden as much as we do!
Pot Luck. It’s also a great way to commune with neighbors!
Cut back. I know it’s hard to avoid everything that’s not local, but it’s a lot easier than you would think to simply cut back.
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