Thursday, July 03, 2014

California Produces the Majority of America's Produce

Last night I retweeted a retweet from a friend in SF saying that she'd gladly take the storms many people on her friends list are complaining about. That, apparently, greatly angered some people who think that I (and anyone in CA commenting about taking some of those midwest/east coast rains) was belittling hurricane survivors with my retweet. Last I checked hurricanes didn't have the monopoly on rain, and the word "storms" encompassed far more than deadly weather patterns. For example, my sister in Ohio recently told me that the kids had to stay inside because the rain was coming down in buckets. A friend who is a photographer in the Milwaukee area was worried that one of her photo shoots was going to be rained out. Friends in NY, Boston, DC, and Virginia have recently posted Instagram pics of rain on their windows and umbrella-filled commutes. Not a word about a hurricane amongst them (I realize that the coastal storms are part of a weather pattern being attributed to the latest hurricane, but right now, those areas are not actually experiencing a hurricane and even when there isn't a looming hurricane, the midwest and east coast regularly experience summer rain showers.).

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"] Central CA farm sign[/caption]

But again, to this person I must have meant that I'd gladly trade my draught for a hurricane. When I tried to point out to her that "storms" does not equal "hurricane", she began arguing with me about how CA needs to invest in desalination technologies (I agree with her, incidentally) and about whether CA really produces more produce than Florida. So let me take a moment to educate anyone who might think that CA does not, in fact, take the cake when it comes to agriculture (Disclaimer: I acknowledge that a lot of CA's farmlands are devoted to Big Ag but that's a post for another day ... I'm not arguing that Big Ag is good, simply that it exists, and when you're at Giant Eagle, or Safeway, or whatever your major grocer is, you're probably buying CA produce.)

  • Almost 22% of the nation’s milk and cream is produced in California, and the state is by far the nation’s largest producer of dairy products.

  • California is the nation’s sole producer of a dozen crops, including almonds, artichokes, olives, raisins, and walnuts, and the leading producer of five dozen more. (I'm sure there's a whole other set of stats related to wine production.)

  • California is the nation’s most productive agricultural state, and is home to a $35 billion agricultural industry.

  • Of the ten most productive agricultural counties in the United States, nine are in California, and the state's "San Joaquin Valley is the single richest agricultural region in the world."

  • Lemon yields are more than 50% higher than neighboring states.

  • California's spinach yield per acre is 60% higher than the national average.

  • CA produces 99% of the nation's walnuts, 97% of kiwis, 97% of plums, 95% of celery, 95% of garlic, 89% of cauliflower, 71% of spinach, and 69% of carrots and the list goes on.

This, y'all, is why water is so important to California, and why our drought is making global headlines. (And why I'm incredibly angry that my upstairs neighbors are currently having their windows professionally washed and water is just pouring down onto my deck, gallons at a time.)

But it's not just about produce. If you eat or drink grass-fed meat or dairy, you need it to rain in CA.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Beef cattle in Marin[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="515"] A Pacific Pastures cow[/caption]

California drought: Grass-fed beef industry reeling
San Joaquin Valley farmers take drastic measures to deal with drought

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="601"] Photo from The Fresno Bee (see link above)[/caption]

But you know, I shouldn't tell Twitter that I'd welcome some of that liquid gold lest I anger someone who thinks I'm asking for hurricanes (and now I'm being accused of wanting tornados too ... I'm so confused.).