Food for Thought: California’s Drought

By Sammy Caiola March 12, 2014 Categories: Food for Thought


Highway signs throughout California plead, “Serious drought. Help save water,” as city councils pass restrictions on outdoor watering and other extraneous water usage in hopes of fighting the severest drought in state history. The tens of millions of dollars in federal aid that President Barack Obama recently pledged drought relief programs will hopefully whet the nation’s interest in water conservation and serve as a wake-up call about the worsening climate change situation.

California is the source of half the nation’s fruits and vegetables, so the effects of the drought will soon be apparent on dinner tables across America. This alarming graphic from the Huffington Post hints at which items are likely to jump in price first. Apparently, it takes 880 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk, 1,799 gallons to produce a pound of beef, and 449 gallons to produce a pound of rice. We’re approaching a slippery slope.

I live in Sacramento, the nation’s “farm-to-fork” capital, and I can see the land literally shriveling around me. It’s devastating. And brown.

Aside from the obvious problem of greenery dying from thirst, the drought is also taking a toll on much of California’s wildlife. In Santa Cruz creeks, depleted stream flow is causing sand buildup that prevents endangered coho salmon from reaching the ocean or swimming upstream to spawn. In the Sacramento Valley, waterfowl that normally live in the rice fields have been searching for a new home. The fields, usually ankle deep with water, went dry last month.

So whether you’re worried about food, or wildlife, or are just saddened by the change in scenery, you might want to think about taking action. The federal money will help, but the real progress has to start with us.

Eartheasy has a fantastic list of 25 ways to save water in the home. Here are a few of my tried and true favorites:

1. Avoid running water. Wash vegetables in a pan of cold water instead of running them under the faucet. Soak dishes in a soapy washtub and rinse off briefly before moving to the dry rack. And for shaving, just fill your bathroom sink with warm water and dip the razor in. It might seem strange at first, but it works just as well and saves a ton of water.

2. Keep a water bottle in the fridge. Running the sink until the water gets cold enough to drink is wasteful and easily avoided with a little bit of forethought.

3. Take shorter showers. This is so easy. Hop in, wash, hop out. Save your powerhouse ballads and deep philosophical thought for when you are getting dressed. The Earth will thank you for it.



Sammy Caiola is a freelance blogger and reporter who was recently unleashed from the Medill School of Journalism in Chicago. When not writing about the environment, health and wellness, arts, education, LGBT issues, and more, she enjoys hiking and playing the ukulele.

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All of you that are so concerned about how much water it takes to grow food may want to look elsewhere for your drought saving idea's, if you really want to save water then don't eat! It won't be long until the state of California will be saving 100 gallons a day after you die from starvation. Where has common sense gone? Stop wasting water on food and the drought will be over! It makes me sick to read daily how dumb this country has become. when the day comes that all of you pointing fingers at the evil farmer for using the water supply to grow food that feeds the world no longer has a source of food you have 2 choices, either turn the finger in your direction and say to yourself "I shouldn't have believed everything I read" or go eat the smelt you've been so bravely fighting for. I've been in California for 45 years and I'm terrified that my children may raise their kids in this state. Please stop worrying about how much water it takes for a human to live and look at the real issues, for those if you that just got excited and said to yourself "he could be right "I do need to eat to sustain life" it must not be the farmer, it's the big bad wealthy oil companies with all their fracking and whatever else it is that I read on the global warming save the world blog. I would suggest that instead of riding on that "I'm here to save the world" band wagon go out and take the risk of owning your own business, I bet you could buy a farm and feed the world without using any water, I know you could because you are the person that is telling all the business owners how bad they are but you know down deep inside you couldn't last a day in charge of a business that people's livelihood rely on your success and making smart decisions, instead you take the easy route, thinking being a vegan and taking a 5 minute shower would fix this problem when you narrow minded people are the problem. My suggestion to you would be, keep eating (although if you decide not to eat that will save water as well) and worry about you, stop consuming so much of your time pointing fingers at the people that grow the food to keep you alive so the rest of the world can hear your uneducated idiotic opinion on what we're all doing wrong.

Rob - 2015-04-10 05:57:42