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The High Cost of Food

Ecology Action Headquarters

A recent article by Michael Snyder at discusses the broad impacts of our dry weather.

The current "severe to exceptional" drought in the State of California could have devastating effects on California agriculture. It is projected that California farmers will let half a million acres of farmland sit idle this year because of the severity of the drought. The U.S. is extremely dependent on California agriculture, with anywhere from 50 to 99% of the following fruits and vegetables grown in the state: artichokes, asparagus, carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, leaf and romaine lettuce, spinach, lemons, avocados, peaches, strawberries and plums.

The drought in California and other western states is also affecting ranchers who are selling off their livestock because of the lack of feed. According to Snyder, the average American's food bill will soar as the median household income declines (as it has for the last five years). Americans will have to make their food budgets stretch as the drought wears on.

David explained that OACK is situated in the heart of a tea-farming area, with steep slopes at a high elevation. He said the current method of tea growing depletes the soil, and farmers do not grow other crops. Most small farmers have about 2 acres of land and are provided with seeds and commercial fertilizers by the tea factory, with the costs of these inputs coming out of the farmers' tea profits at the end of the growing season. A farmer doesn't make enough money from selling his tea to feed his extended family.

The high cost of food provides an impetus for everyone to grow more of their own fruits, vegetables, beans, grains and root crops, using water-conscious gardening practices. (Refer to the article "Water Savings with GROW BIOINTENSIVE" in this issue.) Also, learning how to store and process your harvest by canning, drying, and pickling to establish a well-stocked food pantry can create a greater degree of food security.

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