Three Things: California Carrot Cataclysm

[NB: check the byline, thanks./~Rayne]

You probably recognize this packaging and its contents.

Depending on the store at which you shop and location in the U.S., you might be more familiar with a different brand but similar contents.

Or perhaps you prefer regular or cooking carrots — the companies which produce them here in the U.S. are quite popular across the country.

Carrots, including “baby-style” or “baby-cut” carrots, are the fourth most popular vegetable in the U.S., with 51% of Americans surveyed acknowledging they’ve eaten them. Only potatoes, tomatoes, and onions are eaten more widely and they’re found in many dishes which aren’t potatoes, tomatoes, and onions. Carrots, though, are often eaten plain as snacks and in salads.

What’s weird about carrots for all their popularity and straightforward consumption, is how little the average American knows about them.

~ 3 ~

It’s worth your time to read this essay, Where do carrots come from? by gardening columnist Jill Severn in The Journal of Olympia, Lacey, & Tumwater (JOLT).

You may think she’ll tell where they come from, but instead she introduces you to a critical problem with and for U.S. agriculture:

Many years ago, a young woman from New York City came to visit on Bainbridge Island, brought by mutual friends who lived in Seattle. The Island amazed her; she said she had never seen so many trees.

She had also never seen a vegetable garden. As we walked the garden paths, she could identify tomatoes and cabbages, but pointed at a row of carrots and asked what they were. I pulled one up and showed her. A look of horror came over her face. “Carrots grow in the dirt?” She was horrified. “That’s so unsanitary!” Her feelings were hurt when we laughed.

Really, do go read it, because the scale and depth of the problem become more obvious. It’s not a laughing matter which Severn acknowledges.

I admit to being shocked when I first read those two grafs; I’ve had my hands in garden soil since I was eight or nine years old, growing strawberries and vegetables with the rest of my family. I know carrots not only grow in dirt but they can be a pain in the ass with the wrong soil or growing conditions, or pests. I know carrots straight out of the garden, once rinsed, are heaven to eat and need no adornment.

But as a parent I had a revelation when my oldest was tested for a gifted education program. She was encouraged not to jump into kindergarten but spend a year in a pre-K program because she didn’t know what peas were.

Admittedly, it wasn’t just peas — the other barrier was her ignorance about skipping. At age four when tested, she didn’t recognize it, didn’t know how to do it.

The one thing both peas and skipping had in common was that her parents and caregivers didn’t pass this knowledge onto her. Both parents being full-time white collar workers with schedules in excess of 40 hours a week, neither parent had spent time skipping with her. We took her to playgrounds, parks, taught her how to ride a bike with training wheels, but apparently skipping never made our agenda in the few waking hours we had together every week.

Same thing with peas, only perhaps worse: my spouse hated peas. I’d never cooked them by themselves  unless as pea pods, but the test my daughter took showed her a plate with podless peas. She had no idea what they were. I wish all these years later I’d asked what she thought they were — edible beads? odd candies? alien eggs?

This is how easily Americans become ignorant, by exclusion of information. In the case of carrots and peas, they’ve become ignorant about the very foods they eat every day, and at scale about U.S. agriculture.

~ 2 ~

This is Bakersfield, California:

The grey-blueish area is the city itself, all of its residential and businesses on either side of the Kern River which bisects Kern County. The squares of different shades of green and brown to the south and north of the city are farms.

Note how the city and farms nestle in a flat area surrounded by higher uneven terrain, and how by comparison the entire area is rather arid compared to a similar-sized area in the middle-to-eastern U.S.

Kern County’s average annual rainfall is roughly 6-9 inches, depending on the source consulted; there can be wide swings in this figure from year to year as 2023 will prove. But this average rainfall figure is less than a third of that in Lansing, Michigan or Evansville, Indiana, about an eighth of that in Columbus, Ohio.

The entire county’s native plant life is chaparral – the kind of plants which thrive in a Mediterranean climate with damp cool winters and baking hot summers. Farming anything but chaparral-type plants requires more water.

Farmers have not only used as much surface water as the local ecosystem provides but pumped for more. This has destabilized areas like that beneath the Friant-Kern Canal which serves water to Kern County’s agricultural businesses.

Meanwhile, water managers on the southern end of the Friant system are watching those flows with more than a little frustration.

They are being denied the same largess because the Friant-Kern Canal is out of commission in southern Tulare County as repair work continues there to fix a “sag” along a 33-mile section caused by excessive groundwater pumping that sank the land beneath the canal.

Because of the canal repair work not scheduled for completion until 2024, increased water from this month’s storms isn’t making its way down from Friant to Kern as it would if the canal were fully operational. While rains have increased over Kern County, the groundwater isn’t being recharged if any pumping continues during or after January rains.

This is the Friant-Kern Canal’s path, diverting water from below Millerton Lake from along the base of the Sierra Nevada range to Bakersfield:

Map: Friant-Kern Canal, central California, by Kent Kuehl-The Californian

In spite of much greater rainwater received at the northern source end of the canal, drought based on technicalities – un-recharged groundwater and unfilled reservoirs — and long-term water deficits may remain at the south end.

Snow melt from the Sierra Nevada may help, but there are potential geological threats in the wake of this month’s precipitation.

This is Kern County:

Map: Kern County, California via Google Maps

To say that there may still not be enough water even after all this massive flooding is saying something. The county is the third largest in California and roughly the size of New Jersey.

I won’t even begin to address the other issues related to water quality here, including oil waste fluid and soil fumigant TCP, let alone what water stores in Kern County have meant to other parts of California south of the county.

~ 1 ~

All of which brings me back to the question Jill Severn posed: Where do carrots come from?

85% of U.S. carrot crop is produced in California.

Three of the country’s largest carrot producers — Bolthouse Farms, Grimmway Farms, and AndrewsAgemploy roughly 8000 persons in the Bakersfield area, a number close to 2% of Bakersfield’s population.

This is where our nation’s carrots come from.

Chances are good the carrot crop has been affected in some way by this month’s rainfall in California, even if Kern County hasn’t borne the brunt of it the way other portions of the state have, like central coast, or the Sierra Nevada range with its massive snow pack.

I haven’t even mentioned the challenge of transporting these carrots and other produce. You can see from the city and county maps above the highways which enter and exit Kern County, limited in part by the geography since cutting roads through hills and mountains isn’t a minor undertaking.

This map shows recent landslides which may have affected highways over which produce has been transported:

Map: Landslides in California, January 1-16, 2023, via CA Geological Survey.

Even when the rains stop and the snow melt has finished, instability along some highways will continue.

But carrots aren’t the only produce grown in California and trucked across the U.S.

Where does our garlic comes from? Mostly Santa Clara and Fresno counties – the former badly hammered by this month’s rain – producing roughly half of all garlic consumed in the U.S.

Where do our strawberries come from? Monterey, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz counties, all along central coastal California and all savaged horribly by this month’s storms. Around 90% of strawberries consumed in the U.S. come from this region.

Lettuce is much the same as is celery. I’ve had both romaine and celery in my refrigerator recently which was grown by Tanimura & Antle Farms in California, in the San Joaquin Valley. The same valley has been flooded.

Unlike competitor Bolthouse Farms, Tanimura & Antle is an employee-owned farming business. It also owns farming operations in Arizona and Tennessee, but the latter is particularly interesting as it’s a hydroponic greenhouse facility for lettuce production located between Nashville and Knoxville.

It doesn’t look like much from the air:

Satellite photo: Greenhouse lettuce facility, Tanimura & Antle, Livingston TN via Google Maps

But it’s much more like the most productive fresh produce farms – those in the Netherlands serving Europe.

The Washington Post ran a marvelous piece about farming in the Netherlands this past November. It’s worth the effort to read because this small country 1.5 times the size of Maryland has become a super producer, the “world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products by value behind the United States” according to the WaPo’s article.

Thinking about water and land use, we could learn a lot from the Dutch:

The Netherlands produces 4 million cows, 13 million pigs and 104 million chickens annually and is Europe’s biggest meat exporter. But it also provides vegetables to much of Western Europe. The country has nearly 24,000 acres — almost twice the size of Manhattan — of crops growing in greenhouses. These greenhouses, with less fertilizer and water, can grow in a single acre what would take 10 acres of traditional dirt farming to achieve. Dutch farms use only a half-gallon of water to grow about a pound of tomatoes, while the global average is more than 28 gallons.

How much less water would growers need in California if they used similar technologies? How much less oil would we need to ship produce if we had more smaller produce farms spread out across the U.S., copying Dutch vertical farming under LEDs in greenhouses?

How much less risk would there be to the nation’s food supply if produce wasn’t so heavily concentrated in a single state, one vulnerable to more extremes in weather, wildfire, and earthquakes?

Disruptions to power for protracted periods?

Not to mention the ongoing problems of long-term water availability and its contamination, or other challenges like food-borne illness (ex. E. coli in romaine lettuce from Salinas County, CA).

This isn’t a problem confined to California alone. The celery I bought most recently was from either California or Arizona.

The same Arizona where unincorporated municipality Rio Verde had its water supply cut off by neighboring Scottsdale due to drought. The long-term outlook doesn’t look good, either.

The heavy rain and snow battering California and other parts of the Mountain West over the past two weeks is helping to refill some reservoirs and soak dried-out soil. But water experts say that one streak of wet weather will not undo a 20-year drought that has practically emptied Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, and has strained the overburdened Colorado River, which supplies about 35 percent of Arizona’s water. The rest comes from the state’s own rivers or from aquifers in the ground.

Where does our next celery come from?

We need to learn about our nation’s agriculture in a hurry.

188 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Damn it. I forgot Florida had a recent cold spell which mucked up some produce output.

    Do you know how long it takes for romaine lettuce to reach maturity? 65-70 days when farmed in soil. A deep cold snap can mean delays in planting, reaching maturity, harvesting, so on.

    Reference resources:

    Fresh vegetables, some fruits, USDA:

    Year-over-year stats, USDA:



    How to Store Carrots So They Last for Months – Food52:

    • PeteT0323 says:

      As you most likely know, the Florida citrus – mainly oranges – has been decimated by a variety of things and now I do not believe we produce anything but “juicer” oranges in quantity.

      Homestead is pretty big – relatively speaking – with leafy veggies, tomatoes, etc. but not like California.

      Boy, we could do a whole post of the pollution of fertilizer nutrients to keep big sugar going. Spent a few days with my daughter’s family who spends a week on Siesta Key as they do every year between Christmas and New Years. This year there was a mild red tide stench which I am told is now pretty much all the time unless it gets worse and results in fish kills.

      Of course we here on the lower FL East coast are content to pollute the Atlantic Ocean shores with raw or semi-treated human sewage.

      • Rayne says:

        My folks are on FL’s east coast; my in-laws used to prefer the Gulf because it was warmer. We could see a lot of FL ag on a road trip between their respective places on either coast; always amazes me how damned much beef Florida raises. Ridiculous.

        Disheartening how much FL ag affects each coast; you’d think there’d be more pressure to keep the coasts clean in no small part because of fisheries. It’s not like every state has that much ocean shoreline.

      • eyesoars says:

        Getting an orange ‘orange’ requires cold snaps, which California has and Florida doesn’t. Consumer don’t like green oranges, though they are otherwise identical, and so Florida pretty much produces only juicers.

        • Rayne says:

          It’s a little more than that which differentiates CA from FL oranges. Varieties grown differ — CA grows more navels, which have thicker skins with a more consistently orange color, preferred for eating. FL grows more juice oranges which typically have thinner skins, are juicier, with less consistent skin color. Both states grow Valencias, though, which don’t produce the same under the different climates.

    • Judy Brown says:

      I’ve lived 8 decades in Fresno County in the San Joaquin Valley and I’m very familiar with ag issues. Both Bolthouse and Grimmway are large corporations and I’m not sure what your point was? Why would a huge corporation in this country for sure not farm the most efficient way for their needs? Why if it’s done differently elsewhere and in your suggestion better wouldn’t they adopt it here? I’m curious at your reply so I hope you let me know. Thank you , Judy Brown

      • Rayne says:

        Let’s just pretend the water issue doesn’t exist, right, Judy? We’ll just ignore the issue isn’t larger than the carrot business in Kern County. ~eye roll~

        Welcome to emptywheel. Bring a better comment game.

    • RLHall1961 says:

      Here’s to my cousin, Allerd Smith, of Threeway Farms in Westmoreland County, Virginia, who passed away just about a year ago. He was a school teacher and assistant principal as a younger man, but in the summers, he grew vegetables on the family farm, which our ancestors have worked since the 1690s. Retiring early, he expanded a couple of acres into about 75, irrigated with an artesian drip system he designed and laid out himself. He grew asparagus, strawberries, tomatoes, corn, and all sorts of specialty crops which he trucked up to Dumfries and other farmers’ markets in Washington suburbs for many years. This gave summer work to many of his fellow teachers. Mexican migrants who would drive up every summer in the late ’60s and 70s, soon enough stayed year-round, and they and their children are now citizens. They were his second family.
      Of course, he was unusual. He loved the work and the place, like old-time farmers. Most of his farm was subject to industrial production of wheat, corn, and soybeans, leased to a corporation that could afford the equipment and risk.
      I agree whole-heartedly with you, Rayne, that we as a culture know far too little about the sources of our food and so many other things we depend upon. I miss him and salute his hard work and the contribution he made.

      • Rayne says:

        Your cousin sounds like he would have been a great family farming teacher, could have learned a lot from him. Ave atque vale, Allerd Smith.

        • RLHall1961 says:

          He was very private – never married and rather reclusive. Even so, the old church was filled on a snowy day for his funeral. His family and neighbors, regardless of race, told fabulous stories about his humor and generosity.
          I grew up in Baltimore City, but spent a lot of my childhood “down home.” I learned very early about self-sufficiency and attachment to the land. My life is very different, but I have that at the back of my mind always.

  2. Attygmgm says:

    A North Carolina restaurant owner told me years ago that carrots from California taste better than those grown elsewhere. I found it hard to fathom, but began paying attention, and agree. Michigan or Texas carrots are simply not in the same league as those from California. Interesting piece, Rayne. I’ll read the Post article about the Netherlands. Thank you.

    • Rayne says:

      I suspect there’s a difference both in soil and in handling. Most of the carrots grown here in Michigan aren’t for fresh eating out of hand; you may be eating them cooked in other foods without realizing it. I know when I’ve seen fields here after harvest the broken carrots left behind are huge, not the thin ones used in baby-cut or salads.

      I don’t think Texas is the right climate for them, far too warm which would make them tend to bolt too soon and become bitter.

      That WaPo piece was great in no small part because of its interactive features and photos. There’s no good reason we can’t do what they’re doing inside and outside CA.

      • PSeverinC says:

        Another take on flavor is that California carrots can never taste as good as one from the upper midwest or New England where temperatures drop in the Fall. Plants produce sugar as an antifreeze to prolong the growing period and therefor the carrots are much sweeter. Made sense to me, but could be just a myth to make me feel better for living in a place with cold winters

        [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

        • Rayne says:

          True, that. Beets, rutabaga, turnips, all the root vegetables are so sweet after that first really cold snap.

          I know I read somewhere Bolthouse grows a custom variety developed for their baby-cut carrots; it was probably mentioned on their website. That’s probably an additional factor in the difference in flavor.

          The Food52 link I shared in my first comment provides a bit more information about the chemistry in carrots’ flavor. Handling and storage matter greatly.

        • wasD4v1d says:

          My dad was an avid backyard gardener here in New Enland, and we loved the carrots that got pulled after every freeze-thaw cycle. Snow cover also protected his fall plantings so March (sometimes February) meant early radishes and what might be called ‘baby turnips’ today. Our kitchen was a jarring site (pun intended) in early autumn, and the house had a root cellar which mom and dad put to use. That was in central Mass. during the 50’s and 60’s.

  3. P J Evans says:

    A lot of stuff comes from the Salinas Valley, between King City and Salinas. The Salinas river flooded a lot of land this weekend. Lettuce is not going to be helped. (Lettuce also comes from around Yuma, and some from the Imperial Valley.)

    • Rayne says:

      If a sizeable portion of lettuce fields are flooded AND AZ is short water for lettuce production, the overall lettuce crop is going to be short and pricey.

      I needed to plant my home hydroponic crop two weeks ago, completely forgot to do it. *sigh*

      • higgs boson says:

        Not sure about the rest of the country, but here in eastern Washington the price for a bag of three organic Romaine hearts is damn near $15.

        I’m afraid everything you’ve mentioned here is a harbinger of an inevitable and unpleasant future.

        • Rayne says:

          What. The. Actual. Fuck.

          Fifteen bucks for a bag of leaves??? Jeebus. Now I am absolutely furious with myself for not buying a local greenhouse last year when it was going into bankruptcy. I could have been ready for this.

          • higgs boson says:

            In the interest of accuracy (or maybe just OCD), I should add that today I checked, and they were down to the low, low price of $9.49 per bag.

            • e.a.foster says:

              At that price I’d take a pass on that. Might as well dig over the front lawn and grow a garden. North Americans’ diet has changed since the 1950, 60s. Given advances in refrigerated trucks, etc. people became used to having all the fresh vegetables year round. It has come at a cost as we have seen with the lack of water. Perhaps it is time we reviewed what we eat and where it comes from. Up until recently food in North America has been relatively inexpensive. We could start by supporting local farmer’s markets. Some maintain local farmers’ markets are too expensive. Well compared the prices noted above, not any more. Supporting local farmers is good for the enviornment, the farmers, and the consumers.

              The parental units having lived through WW II in Rotterdam, Netherlands and having experienced the lack of food, always had a vegetable garden as we were growing up.

              Most aging baby boomers in Canada knew where their food came from. Their children not so much. Even as far back as the 1970s many children did not know that cute calf would wind up on their plate. They only saw meat as something the parents bought at a grocery store.

              The Netherlands has been quite progressive in a number of areas, including food production. What the Dutch understand is money. What comes across as progressive is also very cost effective. We in North American have been spoiled with the low cost of food and now it is changing.

              In North America we have wasted water. We acted as if there was no tomorrow or that the water would be there forever. Perhaps our education system needs to have a look at what is being taught in schools. i.e. where food comes from, they teach where babies come from, why not food?

              In Noiv 2021 the Fraser Valley in British Columbia had some rain, as did the State of Washington. The Nooksack river in Washington over flowed its banks and contributed to a huge flood in an agricultural area know as the Sumas Praire. It flooded blue berry farms, chicken farms, dairy farms. It made many realize this flood would/could wipe out a large source of food for the Vancouver area,

              North America needs to have a very deep look at where our food comes, how it is grown, what we are doing to the water and land, and how we can sustain our agricultural base. Major corporations own a lot of farms. They’re not interested in the long term. Its all about the next quarter.

              No one in North America needs to go hungry. We have the resources to grow all the food we need in a sustainable way.

              Rayne, thank you for the article.

  4. Jharpjharp says:

    “Where do our strawberries come from? Monterey, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz counties, all along central coastal California and all savaged horribly by this month’s storms. Around 90% of strawberries consumed in the U.S. come from this region.”

    I find that those strawberries suck. I refuse to eat them and it I strongly try to keep my wife from buying them.

    The locally grown ones (Midwest) are a different fruit altogether. No comparison.

    • Rayne says:

      Better plan ahead right now to buy up a bunch of midwestern berries and prep them for jam and freezing because it could take a couple years for the entire strawberry market to settle out.

      One of my favorite things to do every June was to drive slowly down a particular nearby road with the windows open. I could tell when the U-Pick strawberry crop was in based on the smell. If you could smell the flowers, picking would be in a week-10 days. If you could smell fruit, picking was already underway. At night I would drive by and turn off my head lamps until I was next to the field — my son and I would shine the deer in the strawberries, munching away.

      Sadly, the farm closed a couple years ago when the owners retired and sold their fields to housing developers. What a loss.

      • Ruthie2the says:

        Up in southern Maine there was a U pick strawberry farm with a field that looked over the ocean. Beautiful picking on both fronts.

        • bidrec says:

          A thing when I was in Maine in the service was to get a number which you wore on your back and a blueberry rake and go out and pick blueberries. A colleague did this and when he was on base would give his number to his mother-in-law who was visiting from the Midwest. Locals would do this in season and not work for the rest of the year. Some enlisted wives also found work at the blueberry packing plant.

          • Ruthie2the says:

            We knew all the best local spots, and would go in groups and pick lots of berries – always by hand. In a good year, you could get incredible amounts. My mother made kick-ass blueberry pies, muffins and pancakes. There’s nothing available, even in farmer’s markets, that can compare to wild berries.

            • bidrec says:

              The distinction “wild” never occurred to me. The area where the blueberries were was known as the blueberry barrens and there was nothing but blueberries there. I have no idea if any plowing or planting was involved. The name of the canning company was “Stewart’s”. It tickled me that enlisted wives thought they won the lottery because they got a job there.

      • eyesoars says:

        As a child, one of the best things about going to visit Grandma in Tennessee was picking blackberries. Wild brambles in the NE corner of the state, we’d pick much of the day and drag our containers home to give to Grandma. Then off to the hot baths to clean ourselves, and so we could find where the chiggers were. Then nail polish on them, maybe some cards or goofing off outdoors, and at dinner we got deep-dish blackberry pie for desert.
        All long gone, forty or fifty years ago; the wild brambles are now all developments and lots. On the other hand, it was a stinky, company town that always smelled of hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs) due to the manufacturing plants there. That’s gotten a lot better.

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      Well, yes. I would think Midwest strawberries would suck — local is WAY better! My Santa Clara Valley strawberries are the best — they are fresher (I buy them the morning they are picked), and they are not trucked in from some place I have never heard of.

      • Rayne says:

        We’ll have to agree to disagree. Locally grown Midwest strawberries are to die for, with self-pick being the next best to homegrown.

        The latter two options also differ by variety. Commercial plants are bred for handling and storage, not for flavor.

        There’s one more factor which may make a difference in berry flavor: by mid to late June, northern states across the Midwest get an hour or more of light each day compared to Salinas CA, to pick a location as an example. (Coincidentally, our local strawberry crop reaches its peak on the solstice.)

      • Lilly Hobbs says:

        Bald Knob, AR – strawberry capitol of the world. It was once known as the leading strawberry producer in the world in the 1950s.

        • eyesoars says:

          We’ve certainly got them — or had them — here in Minnesota. It’s been 30 years since I’ve gone picking.

    • P J Evans says:

      Imperial Valley, also, in winter. Or Mexico. (The peak for Ventura county is May and June.)
      I bet the big difference is shipping. Berries really need to be fresh.

  5. Thomas_H says:

    Excellent piece! Having lived in Berkeley most of my life until five years ago, I have grown accustomed to all the amazing produce grown in the Sacramento delta and Capay Valley area thanks to the concentration of restaurateurs like Alice Waters and markets like Monterey Market helping to educate my palate. Nantes carrots are my favorite.

    The difficulties facing agricultural production in the western United States have been known for quite some time. One of the problems, to my mind, has been the vocal opposition to trying to tackle these issues by any means other than damming more rivers and pumping more groundwater. Driving along Highway 99 between Fresno and Bakersfield there are several billboards vilifying water conservation. This area is the old stomping grounds of Devan Nunes and the home of limp mallet McCarthy. I’m sure the large ag producers and the conservative politicians will gleefully oppose any attempts to change the current production methods to be more like the example you present of the methods used in the Netherlands. Ultimately their argument is only about *owning the libs*.

    • Peterr says:

      When I was doing my doctoral work in Berkeley, my folks would come visit from the midwest. On one of these occasions, we had gone up to Sonoma to go wine tasting, and on the way back home we stopped at the Monterey Market for some things I needed to cook dinner. My mom wanted to see the Market (as I had been raving about it since I arrived in the Bay Area), but dad had bad knees at the time, and after a day on his feet he said “I’ll sit in the car while you go in.” My mom took two steps into the market, took one look at the mushroom aisle in all its glorious variety, turned around, and went back to the car. She opened the door, took my dad by the hand, and said “You GOTTA see this place.”

      (We’ll pause here to note that my dad was a better cook than mom, and far more adventurous in his cooking.)

      By the time he made it into the building, I had collected what I needed, so I could just watch him. He took two steps into the market, took one look at the mushroom aisle, and with a spring in his step almost ran to take it in up close.

      Since leaving the Bay Area, I do not miss the high housing prices (rents or mortgages), nor the similarly high gas prices. But I miss the Monterey Market and its fresh produce tremendously, along with the winery I used to live next to. The wines I can still get in metro KC, but there’s nothing here like the Monterey Market.

      • JonathanW says:

        MM is the best! And yet somehow remains somewhat of a secret even for some locals, I’ve found. I remember reading this article when it was published and being worried about an upcoming influx of new shoppers in an already tight space. But somehow Berkeley Bowl remains more famous.

        (Mods, my first time posting a link, hope I got rid of all the tracker stuff correctly).

      • Thomas_H says:

        We had the same sort of experience when we took our friends from Germany to Monterey Market. They were literally stunned to see the potato isle! They only knew red potatoes and white potatoes.

        The history of MM is quite interesting, and they have been an important foundation to the organic ag growers in the early days.

      • RJames0723 says:

        Funny what you said about the mushroom aisle at MM. The first time I went into Berkeley Bowl, I was most impressed by the number of varieties of mushrooms available. I’m not much of a fan of mushrooms, but it is a good indicator of produce selection.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        Monterey Market is so excellent, that I go there from our home in Silicon Valley when we need the really good stuff. You would think that there would be better produce and restaurants on the peninsula. I actually find myself shopping in Berkeley a lot; Rockridge Market Hall, Fournee Bakery, Acme Bread, The Cheese Board, Kermit Lynch Wine. I wish I cold move back to Berkeley.

    • Rayne says:

      I lived in Pomona as a kid in the early 1960s and I can only remember it raining once, wholly unlike living in Ohio or Michigan where I lived next. Limited fresh water is a fact of life California has struggled to accept, but not unlike other states I must admit. Arizona is a perfect example of denial not being a river in Egypt or in Colorado.

      This video by Western Growers just bugs the bejabbers out of me. If I understood there was little rain as a child +50 years ago, why are they just now beginning to grasp this?

      Why wasn’t California already doing what the Netherlands is doing now? Was it because labor costs were so low they could throw bodies at profitability while paying more for water?

      Just so frustrating, and morons like Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes are not part of the solutions needed.

      • bidrec says:

        I note that 40 years ago eleven of the dozen most agriculturally productive counties in America were west of the Mississippi and required irrigation. The outlier was Lancaster County PA which was the most humid place I ever lived.

      • LaMissy! says:

        Just spitballing here, but:

        Much of California agriculture, Florida too, runs on immigrant labor. I’d bet workers in the Netherlands are paid a fair wage for their work, with job security and benefits.

        Take a look at this account on Twitter to see what life in the fields looks like in our country: @UFWupdates

        • Rayne says:

          Let’s be clear here for those who don’t want to open that link that a U.S. greenhouse farm violated labor laws based on that March 30, 2021 report, in how it replaced US workers with H2-A foreign workers.

          Violations like this happen with or without greenhouses. Only need to Google “labor law violation h-2a farm workers” to learn how many violations there were with H-2A workers involved.

    • higgs boson says:

      What’s the old saying? “Water flows downhill and towards money.”

      Even as the Central Valley subsides from all the groundwater pumping, destroying the aquifer forever, every single farmer along Hwy 99 insists that they should get as much water as they need. And the people elected are going to make sure they get their wish.

      And as Rayne mentioned, Rio Verde in Arizona has been cut off from water, while to the west massive amounts of alfalfa (VERY water intensive) are being grown in the middle of the desert and sent overseas so somebody can raise cattle in the middle east.

      People are being paid, and paid well, to make sure these things continue to happen.

      • Thomas_H says:

        We just had a ballot initiative in the Douglas basin of the Sulfur Springs Valley to begin to rein in the unregulated pumping of groundwater there. We won! Unfortunately the adjoining district, the Wilcox basin, was voted down. These are the two areas where the River View Corp. is growing alfalfa to be shipped to the Arabian peninsula.

      • P J Evans says:

        Those billboards are from Westlands Irrigation District, which exists to get MOAR WATER so as to expand into the drier western edge of the San Joaquin Valley. They’re the big supplier to “Wonderful”, the home of most of pomegranates and pistachios in your markets. And the source of much of the Big Ag money going to Newsom, and the demands for the Delta Tunnel (killing the Delta and the Bay).

        • FunnyDiva says:

          It’s like Zombie Peripheral Canal, then?

          I grew up in Sunnyvale.
          Some of the best agricultural land in the state was the Santa Clara Valley. Now better known as Silicon Valley. There were still orchards in town and fruit trees in backyards when I was a kid.

          • P J Evans says:

            In the mid-60s we moved into a house in San Jose that had two ancient walnut trees, the remains of an orchard. One had to be cut down, as it was dying and had termites; we gave the wood, most of it, to the guy who cut it down. And it had two lemon trees and a grapefruit tree in the back yard at the time.

        • Naomi Schiff says:

          My late father-in-law, Merrill Goodall, argued his whole life against antidemocratic acreage-weighted water district governance in California’s central valley. Not sure how to do this best but see an article in The Valley Citizen by Trudi Wischemann. Findable by searching merrill-goodall-water-monopolies-and-the-public-interest.

  6. bgThenNow says:

    I remember someone somewhere talking about children who did not recognize a potato. The only thing they knew were fries, which do not resemble a potato nor reference their vegetable name. But that was their entire experience. Apparently this is the state of food prep in our culture today.

    On another note, I too failed at skipping. I recall trying to understand the process, trying to get the leaping, hopping, and lifting of my feet and just being unable to organize the movements. I was downgraded on my kindergarten report card for this. I can still relive it in my mind, and I am not confident I can do it now and don’t want to try.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL I remember way back someone telling me chicken came from the store — and they meant it just that way.

      In re: skipping — it’s one thing to be marked down for not being able to skip. Today I don’t think they could do use that as a criteria. But you likely understood what skipping was. My daughter didn’t know the word or recognize the activity. You can imagine the fool I made of myself in my mid-30s, teaching my 4-year-old to skip on the sidewalk outside after work for a week, using games of hopscotch as an excuse.

    • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

      Thank you, Rayne. Food service, over four decades (ooof) here. We have served whole roasted okra pods and had folks marvel because they’d only ever seen them cut, battered, fried and just assumed they were lil’ nubbins.

      PS Parsnips overwintered, too. Mmph.

      • Rayne says:

        Cracks me up, “lil’ nubbins.” Let me go out and check the okra tree to see if the nubbins are ready fall into the deep fryer. LOL

        I haven’t cooked much with parsnips because I can rarely find fresh ones, overwintered or no. I’d try my hand at growing them, overwinter them myself, but they don’t handle heat well and my garden beds get quite warm. Not to mention pests I’d have to fight for the small number I could produce.

      • P J Evans says:

        People who need to be sent seed catalogs, so they can see photos of the real thing. Okra is a pretty plant.

        • bidrec says:

          Until the late sixties there was American Seed Company which advertised in the back of comic books. Their business model was that comic book consumers (children) could order seed packets and sell them door-to-door. After collecting the money they were supposed to pay for the seeds that American Seed had sent them. Apparently they stopped paying for the seeds and the company went bankrupt.

        • Rayne says:

          They are pretty in a funky sort of way — blossoms like hibiscus and plant like eggplant.

          But no nubbins. LOL

  7. Snarkhuntr says:

    I cannot reccomend highly enough the non-fiction book Cadillac Desert. I came across it mentioned in the equally relevant sci-fi thriller ‘The Water Knife’ by Paolo Bacigalupi. The fictional story of the drought ravaged American southwest repeatedly references the non-fiction book (written in 1986) as having accurately described the problem and predicted the outcome.

    The simple fact is that the American southwest cannot support the populations it currently hosts. This has been known since pre-colonial days. You cannot consume more water than falls from the sky, not forever.

    Sooner or later every aquifer will be drained dry, and without sufficient water coming in to replace it faster than it’s being taken out – eventually every place where this happens will dry up and die.

    California agriculture, metropolises in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and elsewhere. All of these have been running on borrowed time for decades, with no coherent plan for long term sustainability better than Rick Perry’s exhortation to pray for rain.

    What has been sown – is being reaped. None of this was secret, none of it was hidden. While LA was stealing rivers from upstate (seriously, read Cadillac Desert), and the planners of Albuquerque were calculating the expected run-dry date for their aquifer – people were still building subdivisions, swimming pools and almond farms.

    So long as there’s a buck to be made, humans are happy to shoot the next generation right in the knees – expecting our children and grandchildren to clean up the messes some of us got rich making. (See also: the oil industry)

    • Rayne says:

      The Ancestral Puebloans left lessons behind in their former homes which were likely abandoned due to long-term drought. What a pity their departure has been disregarded.

      Makes me think of Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse. In hindsight I wonder how much each of the collapsed civilizations he examined shared the same disregard for warnings other past cultures provided about the limits of resources.

    • higgs boson says:

      I would also recommend “Beyond the Hundredth Meridian” by Wallace Stegner. John Wesley Powell tried very hard to make people aware of just how little carrying capacity the West really had. But as you say – so long as there’s a buck to be made…

      • Kick the Darkness says:

        “Beyond the Hundredth Meridian” is really a great book. It’s a shame Reisner did not live long enough to reprise “Cadillac Desert”. If reader of this site aren’t familiar with the publication “High Country News” its a great source for ongoing coverage of western environmental and environmental justice issues.

        • LaMissy! says:

          High Country News is extraordinary. Large format, beautiful photography, important issues. The “I Am the West” feature never fails to delight or amaze.

    • chrisanthemama says:

      Also, too: check out Mark Arax’s “The Dreamt Land” and “The King of California” for more about water and agriculture in the southern San Joaquin Valley in CA.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      Sort of true. There is plenty of water in the West for people if farming is eliminated. Growing cotton in Arizona makes little sense (it did at first, but only because Arizona was free from pests that were troubling areas where the climate was more favorable.

      But dairy farming in Arizona never made sense.

  8. Raven Eye says:

    If you bring up the Google satellite view and follow stretches of highways throughout California, you’ll be looking at a seemingly endless patchwork of green and gold, indicating cropland, pastureland, or rangeland.

    https://www .nass .usda .gov/Quick_Stats/Ag_Overview/stateOverview.php?state=CALIFORNIA

    I grew up in Central California just as the terrain starts to rise to the Sierra foothills. The Friant-Kern canal is about 100 yards east of my childhood back property line. The canal was the source of our family’s domestic water, through one of the many irrigation districts in Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. We were surrounded by orange and olive trees, and most of my school friends’ families were connected in some way to agri-business with tree, vine, dairy, or field crops, or their supporting industry.

    On the west side of the southern San Joaquin there once was Tulare Lake – the largest freshwater lake in the U.S. west of the Great Lakes. There was a sizeable fishery at one time and it was even used as an alternate seaplane base during WWII. Eventually the lake basically dried up as more and more water from its three source rivers got diverted to agriculture.

    As the amount of water-thirsty plantings in the valley increased so did the dependence on well-water, and a “race to the bottom” was underway in the form of ever-deeper wells as the water table continued to fall (a family member is a well-driller, among other things). Corporate farms now buy up properties not for their production, but to get the water rights, drill wells, and then pipe the water to cropland. As the water table drops, subsidence gets worse and field irrigation systems on the valley floor have to be reworked for them to work.

    Storms like the recent ones might give the appearance of messing up a carefully balanced system, but in reality, they are messing up an unbalanced system on a downward slide that already needs constant attention and “adjustment”. In the plant-grow-harvest cycle too much water falling or flooding during any of the three phases can destroy a crop.

    Meanwhile, we have water-hungry almonds in California, the export of Colorado River water (in the form of alfalfa) to the Gulf States, and 14,000 acres of pecan orchards in El Paso County TX that need two inches of water per week once in production (much of it level basin flood irrigation).

  9. Ruthie2the says:

    I read and was fascinated by that WP article when it came out. It’s especially interesting that The Netherlands uses so little water in its agricultural production when water is so abundant there, although I suppose much of it could be brackish and unsuitable.

    In some dry coastal areas of Spain, desalination plants supplement natural water, although I suspect it’s more for human consumption than for agriculture. It would be an expensive solution, possibly suitable only for the largest coastal cities. Still, California is such an economic powerhouse it would seem worth considering.

    Western states overall are inexplicably complacent while their water continues to dwindle.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      Water, in the sense you are using it, is not actually necessary. In 1900, Paris, one of the largest cities in the world, got all its fresh vegetables from land irrigated entirely with the piss from the city’s pissoirs. It wasn’t treated, either, just carried in ditches to the fields.

  10. Lawnboy says:

    Way back in the 80’s our front yard design utilized xeriscape mostly bc of white grubs and city water costs. The grubs ,and skunks that followed, had the place looking like Vimy Ridge post battle. It’s a real waste of chlorinated potable water and it just seemed wrong to waste it on a lost cause.

    Xeriscaping had a base in University of Colorado and they got me going down that garden path. The topic is vegetables and crops but it’s all horticulture to me. So house circa 1995 to present is pachysandra and a massive maple for super low (no water) maintenance.

    Don’t fight her, just saying.
    “ Never plant a problem”. Burt Henning NPSH

    • e.a.foster says:

      When the sibling and I bought a new house, it was unlandscaped. Front lawn: wall to wall gravel. Have yet to mow that. City rules demand you have two trees in the front–have them. If I want more greenery, just put out a few pots with them and done. Many of the new homes in the area have done similiar things. Looks great
      Back yard, gravel and pots with plants and 3 blue berries bushes in large pots. Cuts down on the need to water, and the blueberries taste great. The great thing about growing plants in pots, is when you move, you can take the pots and your plants with you. Haven’t done well with basil on Vancouver Island in pots, but in Vancouver, there was so much basil in the pots, a friend would come over, clear cut it and make pesto.
      Blue berries are easy to freeze, just pick and place in plastic bags or whatever you want, place in deep freeze and eat later.

  11. Zirc says:

    I read your entry and the Washington Post article with interest. While I accept that the Dutch model may have much to offer, I balk at the idea of food grown in “plant production units.” And in the comments above, you and others mention soil having much influence on taste. What does a vegetable grown in such a unit taste like? Europe seems happy with the produce, and the Post article states that Agro Care has “chang[ed] the reputation of Dutch tomatoes, but I still wonder.


    • Rayne says:

      Some of the most particular chefs and eaters in Europe don’t seem to have a problem with Dutch vegetable production. One of the other things the Dutch can do with LED lighting is manipulate the taste of food based on the light spectrum applied throughout a plant’s lifecycle. This may be part of the reason why there hasn’t been rejection of Dutch produce — the vegetables taste as the consumers expect.

      I note you’re worried about the terroir affecting taste. Do you have any concerns about the other chemicals which affect taste like particulate in rainfall or contaminants in surface/ground/irrigation water? Because those shape flavor as well, and they’re not present in a closed hydroponic system.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Dutch tomatoes once had the same response as English wine. Neither country was associated with the environment normally expected of producers of those products.

      Global heating and food engineering have helped changed that expectation. But I would remember that the Dutch and EU rate food quality as a high priority when choosing production methods. (Notwithstanding their continuing tolerance for agri-chemicals, which they are trying to address, with the French notably lagging in that race.) I think the Post understated that, in an unusually good article, in its focus on peopleless production and high-tech solutions. Brits, on the other hand, have demonstrated that profitable deregulation is a higher priority.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL no, Kern County itself is quite flat, more likely to experience flooding along the Kern River.

      Although there were five slides reported at the north end of Kern county this month.

      Most of the produce in Kern County will head for I-15, I-40, and I-15. Sure hope there’s no atmospheric river aiming for southern CA any time soon.

  12. S.Chepaitis says:

    I’m coming in late to this discussion, but as a small scale organic vegetable farmer, i feel like I should have something to contribute.
    I often find myself confronted with the mistaken belief that “organic farming cannot feed the world”. I’m not concerned with feeding the world, but I am concerned with feeding the 75 or so people who buy my produce. In the early 20th century, it is estimated that close to 90% of Americans worked in farming in some capacity or another. By now that percentage is way below 10%. If one enterprising organic farmer with more acreage than I have and a small workforce can feed perhaps 100 people with produce, dairy products, and meat. Simple math should tell us how many of those it would take to feed a large city.
    Dutch farmers have done some amazing stuff, but looking closer to home we can use the example of the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century. This is when New jersey was called the “Garden State” for a good reason, and when every major city was surrounded by farmland that sustained its needs. Now that farmland is mostly in condos and about New Jersey, well…………..
    Small Scale farming for a dedicated client base is a very congenial occupation and I can attest to that personally. As an senior farm inspector for CNG (Certified Naturally Grown) I have met young people all over the country that are doing this and loving it. There is such resilience in diversity of farming locations, products, methods, etc. that climate disasters in one place would not wipe out our carrots if we could get the numbers of farmers back up and initiate a much wiser policy on land usage. I farm on steep hillside in heavy clay soil, there are always multiple ways to adapt to local conditions and grow food successfully.

    • Rayne says:

      We really can’t use “the example of the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century” to compare to modern agriculture and produce consumption. Not even the plants we grow are the same unless one is an heirloom-only specialist, and heirloom varieties are notoriously variable in quality and output.

      resilience in diversity of farming locations, products, methods” is exactly what we need, across the country, across the globe if we’re going to survive the accelerating climate crisis. This month’s atmospheric river events in CA are only 1/3 (so far) of the impact an ArKstorm 2.0 event might inflict on the state. Imagine 2X more rain inside the same time frame and what it would do to CA’s agriculture. We cannot remain so heavily invested in one state for many crops.

      • S.Chepaitis says:

        In terms of land use, and the concept of local farms producing food for local and regional communities, I think the late 10th early 20th century practice provides a viable example.
        And I would note that heirloom vegetables like the brandywine tomato, have only survived now because they were once adapted to a small local area and performed admirably for that area. The brandywine is a particularly poor performer for my area (in spite of the seed catalog marketing hype) but I have found other varieties that work well and I notice that with time and several seasons, they change and adapt to local conditions. The farmers of past eras were constantly developing new varieties by simply selecting what did best on their specific farms.
        All plants are hybrids in one way or another and have some inherent genetic diversity. This is how they adapt over time, even modern hybrids will do this- to the frustration of plant breeders who have to continually update and improve them.

        • e.a.foster says:

          Some farmers have found the organic status was too cumbersome. They have gone into “traditional” farming. They grow their veggies and meat as once was done, no chemicals, etc. just natural methods. Tastes great, The chicken tastes great. Farmers are all local. Money stays in the community

        • P J Evans says:

          Some of the universities are developing varieties that are better suited to their locations. There are tomatoes like “Oregon Spring” and “Santiam” that can take cooler, wetter weather (and will do fine in warmer weather also). They’re not huge supermarket tomatoes, but they’re tasty.

  13. OnKilter says:

    California native here, and current resident of the state. I live in the desert over an aquifer that is said to be able to provide 100 years of water to the community it lies beneath. The reason the aquifer has not been depleted is due to decisions made 50 years ago by leadership in this same community, and also due to the enormous size of the aquifer (at least 39 million acre feet of water).

    In addition to the aquifer, the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) has senior water rights (August,1931) to the Colorado River, as well as replenishment ponds that capture what little rainwater does fall here. The Colorado river water is used for agriculture and to replenish the aquifer. Of course, if there is no Colorado river water, then that water is not available.

    And it is true that drought will consume the western states despite the recent rains and snows. The 20th century has been wetter than the historical average, so it is probable that the south western United States will dry out over the next 20 to 50 years.

    Also true that more efficient water use could mitigate some of the problems, but not solve them.

    But what no one mentions above is the fact that there is no national water use/reuse policy.
    Probably not likely either, since the stingy politics of the 21st century controls. I cannot see any midwestern state sending water westward.

    But here is a suggestion:
    Trade energy for water. Western solar and wind energy for mid-western/eastern water.

    Of course that would necessitate a national energy transmission effort as well as a national water pipeline project.
    And the effort could even be international, since Mexico is getting starved of the Colorado river water, and Canada may have an available excess of water simply flowing to the sea.

    I’m no expert, but I do know that the efficient use of existing water will not solve the problem entirely, and that new water must be found.

    Yes, I’m no expert, but I am a dreamer. Just call me Pollyanna!

    • Rayne says:

      As a resident of Michigan I say nope to energy-for-water. We’re already shipping far too much water out of my state alone in the form of Nestle’s Ice Mountain bottled water. Taking water out of the Midwest means undermining ecosystems for decades of bad decisions in the Southwest. Nope.

      We also don’t need the energy. We have our own. You might think about ways in which Western solar production might be put to use in massive desalination projects, though.

      As for a national water policy — yes, we are long overdue, and water policy should extend to the tap. Flint MI is a perfect example; had there been better water policy in place before 2014 with regard to sourcing water, the tap water problem would not have become a catastrophe almost overnight. Nor would alfalfa grown in inappropriate climate conditions for export essentially siphon off water needed by the U.S.

      But that’s why I wrote this post — ag policy is water and land policy.

      • OnKilter says:

        I do understand the reasons for trying to preserve mid-western/eastern water.
        And I agree that water hungry crops grown in the west should not be exported. But moneyed interests really do rule in this land we call home.

        But not to be obstinate, I do like the idea of using Great Lakes water (Capacity is about 15 billion + acre feet) in water starved communities east of the Rockies.
        And then the water wouldn’t be going to California, or Arizona or Nevada, but instead feeding nice red states like N/S Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Eastern New Mexico. The possibilities for agriculture are tremendous!

        California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah (as well as Mexico) would have to look for alternate solutions, like large scale desalinization (Pacific or Gulf of California), or water importation from Canada.

        And construction of flood control infrastructure which could provide aquifer replenishment and water storage.

        Flood control infrastructure which will be required in any case if indeed there will be a 500 year flood in the next few years.

        California, with a $3.63 trillion gross state product (GSP) as of 2022 (worlds largest sub-state economy), and a surplus estimated at about $30 billion can afford these projects, particularly if partnering with Mexico, Nevada and Arizona.

        Yes, these problems can be solved if cooperation can be obtained, which in the stingy polarization of this country is currently impossible.

        • Rayne says:

          No. Fuck off all the way with taking Great Lakes water for any use outside of the Great Lakes basin. You’ve learned nothing about taking water from outside its natural watershed at all.

          It’s bad enough we’ve had the threat of nuclear plants built next to these inland fresh water bodies and a goddamned oil pipeline running through two which we can’t manage to be rid of, but to give up more water for stupidity? Fuck no.

          You want to live in a desert? Let me quote a recent popular movie: “Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!” Westerners’ addiction to water is not ours to solve at the risk of entire ecosystems.

          • OnKilter says:

            I do live in a desert community. One which has an extremely strict water policy, sustainable for at least 100 years., and probably indefinitely. Pure water serving my community.

            Please try not to say “Fuck off” to me, it’s really hurtful. I don’t expect respect here, not at all. But I also don’t expect rudeness. I know that there is a culture here of rudeness but please try to respect my sensibilities. Some may not mind being told to “fuck off” but I do, so please refrain from that when responding to my posts. Thanks.

            I express my opinion freely, and if you disagree, that’s just fine. But please be respectful in disagreement.

            I have listened to you, and now I agree with you, that the export of Great Lakes water to the west is a bad idea.

            A better long term solution will be large scale desalinization for California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Mexico. With the ocean water from the Pacific or Bay of California. Of course , that leaves out places east of the continental divide- probably too expensive, so perhaps they can talk to Texas about some desalinization efforts from the Gulf.

            People will continue to live in and grow crops in the Southwest. And if technology can make that happen, why not?

            • P J Evans says:

              Desalinization sounds great, until you start asking what happens to all the minerals removed from that water. And where the power to desalinize is coming from. And how you’re going to ship that water.

              • OnKilter says:

                Yup, you’re right, Big problems to solve. But why not? Why not solve some big problems so people can continue to live and grow crops in the Southwest?

                The problems you mention need to be solved.
                Flood control needs to be solved.
                Conservation needs to be solved.
                Inefficient crop selection and export needs to be solved.

                Many problems to be solved.

                But what is the alternative?

              • Rayne says:

                I keep hoping sodium-based batteries reach commercialization sooner than later, because desalination would resolve both a need for fresh water and sodium. They’re so close right now.

                As for shipping water: every waterway and drain running toward the ocean is a path inland as well. Every highway right-of-way and easement is a path. Get thirsty enough and water will find its way along those routes. What’s more crucial is making sure those pre-existing paths are used instead of allowing banks to find a way to capitalize on building wholly new alternative routes for the sake of funding.

                That’s why Flint ended up with a goddamned new pipeline running to Lake Huron which took years to construct, instead of staying on Detroit water or running a pipeline along 35 miles of federal highway easement to the next city north which had excess water capacity. The banks wanted to finance the pipeline, and speculators wanted to be able to siphon water off the pipeline to frack between Flint and Lake Huron.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                I’m afraid so. Coastal desalinization plants pump the acidic, high-salt content residue back into the ocean, which creates a toxic plume. Lot more work needs to be done to find a better way to deal with it.

            • Rayne says:

              No. Insisting water is taken from another part of the country to satisfy and compound hundreds of years of stupidity is rude. Beyond rude. Fucking rude, even.

              And I’ll write whatever I want here, however I want. You’ve got a whopping 11 comments under your belt here so apparently you aren’t familiar with this neighborhood. Commenters do NOT police language or content here with some very narrow exceptions like hate speech.

              People who ignore the lack of water in the Southwest are like the people who ignore the fact masks and vaccinations work — in denial. Stop expecting the rest of us who live in other parts of the country to enable denial. I’m certainly not expecting you to show up here and shovel my goddamned snow because I chose to live where there’s frozen precipitation half the year.

              • OnKilter says:

                Well at least you didn’t tell me to “fuck off”.

                Thanks! That’s a step in the right direction, so congratulations.

                And really I don’t care what you say to others here, not one bit. But for me, I don’t like to be told to “fuck off”.

                So since I can say whatever I want here (except hate speech) I say this:

                Say what you like to others, but please when responding to my comments, be respectful. If you disagree strongly with an opinion of mine, say so respectfully.

                I am respectful to you, so why not return the favor? How hard is that?

                Honestly, I just don’t know what it is about these sorts of discussion blogs that gives some people license to be rude and disrespectful. It’s the internet culture I guess.

                Yes I only have 11 comments here, I guess this makes 12! YAY!!!

                • bmaz says:

                  Fuck off. Nobody here owes you anything. And we will respond to you anyway we see fit, and really don’t give a damn what you demand. This enterprise does not need your whiny tone policing.

                  PS: No, not publishing your last whiny response. Get a grip.

                • Rayne says:

                  No. Once again, fuck off. Your ideas are disrepectful and your blindness as to why is repugnant.

                  I do thank you, though, for providing impetus for my next essay. Heh.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  The notes at the front of this blog make clear that running into a potty mouth is a distinct possibility. If you can’t stand the heat….

          • bidrec says:

            Some Great Lakes water is diverted to the Mississippi watershed via the Chicago River which was reversed to prevent (reduce) pollution from flowing into Lake Michigan.

              • Rayne says:

                Better out than into the shallow Great Lake where it just sits and accumulates along with a couple hundred years of industrial pollution, whipped up occasionally to be tossed as particulate-laden water vapor to roll over southern Michigan/northern Ohio and Indiana.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I have an idea. Let’s stop multinational corporations from draining water sources across the country for a virtual nickel in order to bottle it and sell it to us for $2.50. Small step, perhaps, but they combine to make a giant leap.

          • Rayne says:

            Selling it for $2.50 in a plastic bottle made from oil, shipped across the country using more oil. All that needs to end.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I think there’s an analogy with carbon trading. Shipping water in large volume doesn’t address why water-starved communities are water-starved. Is it over-consumption, sustained drought, local water made unpotable by toxic industrial run-off, etc.? I would address those things before letting Wall Street underwrite waterlines from the Great Lakes to the highest bidders. I would also argue that water facilities need to remain in public hands, which means providing a service nominally above cost rather than at a huge markup.

          • bidrec says:

            Guantanamo Bay gets its potable water from a desalinization plant (which also provides power) because Castro shut off the water supply.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Ignoring the longstanding imperial purposes for that base, it’s hardly representative of the acute environmental problems desalinization plants currently create in their adjacent waters. It’s a statement that naval and military outposts are more important than the environment, a routine message one hears from the US DoD.

            • e.a.foster says:

              Israel started desalinzation back in the mid 1960s and about half their water comes from it today. Works for them, why not in the U.S.A.
              Desalinization plants are not cheap and that is perhaps why there aren’t any in the U.S.A. Agri business has its lobbists and they’re doing a fine job. They most likely won’t stop with their agenda until all water is gone or people start voting in their own interests.

              As to Canada exporting water to the U.S.A., The position of many Canadians is no way in hell. The Americans wasted their own water, they aren’t going to waste ours.

              Many believe we have an endless supply of water. However, we are having serious droughts in Canada. The town of Slave Lake had a huge forest fire and a lot of the town was burnt to the ground. Then we had the forest fire in Fort McMurray. The downtown core was left standing but only because of the brave fire fighters and Fire Chief along with people from the water plant who risked their lives.

              B.C. has had several years of extreme drought and severe forest fires. One small town was burnt to the ground a couple of years ago and two people died.

              The biggest problem with exporting bulk water to the U.S.A. is the Free Trade Agreement. It stipulates once we start shipping water, we can’t stop, even if Canada experiences a water shortage.
              When it comes to that Free Trade Agreement I for one do not trust the Americans. They have hauled the B.C. lumber industry into court so often I thought it might be a scheme to make money for american lawyers. Canada usually won. Some Americans in their lumber industry were complaining our health care system was a subsidy to the lumber industry. You just can’t trust a bunch of politicians, lawyers, corporations who do that type of thing, especially with something as important as water.

              We do export bottled water but that isn’t restricted by a free trade agreement

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Wholeheartedly agree. Trading water doesn’t reduce consumption; it’s more likely to increase corporate profits. Policing its use on the other end might be a problem. Golf course owners, for example, would lobby hard to get their “fair share,” when they should be put out of business if they located in the wrong place (Phoenix, Palm Springs). And governments would inevitably be bulldozed into public-private partnerships, which overwhelmingly tend to publicize costs and privatize profits.

        • Lawnboy says:

          Agree to all you have said, and it’s been describe at length by Maud Barlow in the “ Blue Covenant “. Especially the water barons like Nestle. This is a world issue.

          I live on a Great Lake, and after reading Ms Barlow, I don’t waste a drop despite the seemingly endless supply.

      • Coldfusion0012 says:

        Oh, how I would love seeing a national ban on disposable bottled water products. It’s so far belying wasteful in every way imaginable. Barring that, there should be a $10/bottle fee for every bottle produced. Encourage reusable bottles, glass, steel, plastic, whatever the user’s preference..

        • bmaz says:

          We have done that here at Casa de bmaz. Buy water from a water store down the street in giant reusable containers and use them to fill Swell insulated bottles (which really are swell by the way). No plastic bottles.

        • Rayne says:

          At a minimum there should be a national deposit fee on plastic containers including water bottles. A few states including Michigan where I live have beverage bottle and can deposit laws; they’ve been very successful in reducing waste pollution. The problem is that the law is too limited; in Michigan they apply only to certain carbonated beverages and should apply to every beverage. Every container should be recyclable and go back into the raw material supply, but optional recycling is unlikely to ensure higher rates of recovery.

  14. Amicus says:

    In order to try and come to grips with the issue of global warming I find it useful to think in terms of water: too little water; too much water; melt water; increased oceanic temperatures etc. California’s current atmospheric river storms – devastating as they are – are modest compared to what has transpired in the relatively recent past, and what is likely going forward.

    In the winter of 1861-62, “a 45-day period of torrential rains from multiple storms carrying a strong “atmospheric river” (AR) of tropical moisture impacted the state, turning California’s Central Valley into a lake 300 miles long and over 20 miles wide. The resulting floods put downtown Sacramento under 10+ feet of water, forcing movement of the state capital to San Francisco.”

    As the linked article states, a repeat event could well result in a trillion dollars of economic loss, and untold human suffering.

      • Amicus says:

        Yes, spot on. We as a nation have built infrastructure and developed an economy that is not designed for what we (and our children) are living through. Another nightmare scenario is the potential loss of the Old River Control system (or other kindred loss of the levees) resulting in the Mississippi River changing course. It all sounds a bit like science fiction, except it isn’t.

        • Rayne says:

          The nightmare scenario would be the New Madrid fault slipping in a big way, changing the Mississippi’s course, affecting 7-8 states at a minimum.

          Entirely possible, too, might even be overdue for a big slip in the +6.0 Richter scale range.

              • P J Evans says:

                I wonder if there’s a working theory why there’s a rift in the middle of the continent – it’s a very strange place for one.

                • Rayne says:

                  I can’t open USGS’ site, have to rely on archive copy:

                  It’s a very old, very deep weakness where plates nearly split; it’s since been covered with sediment. I’ll throw in a personal theory that two events may have helped “pin” the plates — the Chicxulub asteroid which hit earth almost due south of the current Mississippi delta in the Yucatan 66M years ago, and the Chesapeake Bay bolide which formed the bay 35M years ago. The former may have changed the pressures on the plate which were forming, and the latter may have kept the eastern plate from drifting further east. Now the fault kind of burps as it continues to settle millions of years later, but the burps can cause liquifaction of the less solid sedimentary material above the deep, weak fault. The entire continent continues to move west as earthquakes along the west coast prove, which might be a bit of the energy pulling on the New Madrid fault.

          • theGeoguy says:

            This is a great post with comments that could go in so many directions. “When the Mississippi Ran Backwards: Empire, Intrigue, Murder, and the New Madrid Earthquakes” by Jay Feldman is a great book about the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812.

    • P J Evans says:

      Descriptions, maps, photos (some incorrect, in my edition: it has a photo of pecans on the tree under “almonds”!), and it’s alphabetical in each category. Includes cannabis…

  15. Old Antarctic Explorer says:

    Slightly off-topic rant (Apologies Rayne): You do not teach a kid to ride with “training wheels”. Kids just learn to depend on the training wheels and can spend months or even years learning how to ride that way. It only takes an hour, two at the most to teach a kid how to ride a bike.

    When I was a kid I didn’t have a bike until my sister gave me hers when she was a teenager not riding anymore. So all the other kids were riding their bikes and I didn’t have one till later; I just ran alongside them when we went anywhere in the neighborhood. Now that I had a bike I was determined to teach myself how to ride it. I went over to the side street off our street (no traffic) and kept getting on the bike and falling off but slowly getting further with each attempt. Then a couple older kids came by that I knew and asked what I was doing. The older one said “Get on the bike” and he held the bike seat and pushed me faster and faster and then with one final push said “just steer”. I was going faster than I had ever gone before and that was the key to learning how to balance by steering. Unfortunately the street was running out and I went across the cross street and ran into a curb and fell off the bike laughing. They came running up and asked if I was hurt and I said “No”. Then I got back on the bike and was able to get going fast enough and steered correctly and was riding a bike. I practiced the rest of the afternoon just going back and forth on the side street. The next day I spent learning how to go around corners right and left. A day later a neighbor lady who had seen me doing this asked if I could teach her son (7-8 years old) how to ride. She said he had been on training wheels for over a year and still didn’t know how to ride. We took the training wheels off and I proceeded to run him up and down the street while he kept asking me if I was holding on. I replied “Yes, I’m holding on” for awhile, but after he learned to balance I relaxed my grip and finally was just running along side him without holding on. I finally told him that he was riding all by himself. One happy kid! Then we practiced braking and turning and in less than two hours he was riding. His mom gave me a hug.

    Years later in California one of my friends had married a divorcee with a daughter. We were sitting out on the front porch of their house on a cul-de-sac in Carlsbad and her daughter was going around the circle out in front of us with training wheels on her bike. I asked how long has she been riding with training wheels and the reply was for over a year. She was six. I asked for a wrench and after my friend got it I went out, took off the training wheels and proceeded to teach her in less than an hour how to ride. And years later I danced with her at her wedding; I asked if she remembered me teaching her to ride a bike and she said “Yes, it was one the great learning experiences in my life”.

    C,mon parents, grandparents. It’s really easy and doesn’t take that much time. You can do it!

    • Rayne says:

      With all due respect, fuck off. Seriously. I learned with training wheels, took me one week. My kids both learned using training wheels, took them a week or two.

      Next think you’ll tell us we don’t need bike helmets. ~eye roll~

      Don’t like this rebuttal? Then don’t hijack my thread and get back on topic.

      • Coldfusion0012 says:

        To be fair, helmets are only useful in certain accidents, and not so much if a car is involved.

        Training wheels can help some kids but they also increase the danger of falling over during a turn. It was happening to my son. Also if you reply on them and lean over it will topple you. My son was more scared to take them off even though they were causing him to fall.

        • Rayne says:

          Get. Off. This. Topic. In. This. Thread.

          Did you not see ALL of my reply to the moron who derailed this thread?

          We’re talking about the nation’s food supply, ag policy, water policy, not bikes and kids.

    • Kick the Darkness says:

      Thought I’d mention the following since I didn’t know until life gave me a reason to find out. My son learned bike riding just like you talked about. No problems. With my daughter, it was much harder. It just wasn’t working. When she got diagnosed with ADHD we learned that balance issues-postural sway-come with the territory. So the training wheels went back on, set just a bit up off the ground. They are a way for her to work on balance and confidence whlle still giving her the fun of riding a bike.

  16. rosalind says:

    fabulous post, rayne! thanks so much. i’m just back from a trip to the S.F. Bay Area to visit an ailing aunt. got to experience the non-stop rain and its after-effects up close and personal. in addition to the toll on agriculture is the toll on infrastructure, personal and institutional.

    with so many years of drought, tree roots have weakened and the saturated soil and strong winds are toppling trees right and left, closing roads, crushing homes and people. my sibling counted 37 fresh tree stumps on their drive home from trees that’d been cleared fm the roadway.

    tree trimmers and roofing contractors have months-long backlogs. key roadways are closing with huge sinkholes. 92 to Half Moon Bay is closed or eastbound only. Highway 101 north had two left lanes closed for a sinkhole as I flew out. Business districts have layers of mud covering the sidewalks and sandbags deployed.

    power outages. phones out. wifi out. all our modern tech and in the heart of silicon valley and i and my sibling had to constantly plan three steps ahead in case we couldn’t get a hold of each other again.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh I wondered when we’d hear from someone who’d been in the Bay Area. All the photos look awful, like some from a Cat 5 hurricane in the southeast. Thanks much for sharing what you saw.

      This is one of those times when the GOP’s bullshit about immigration and asylum seekers hurts us most — they’ve been the rapid scale-up workforce we need to respond to catastrophes.

      We also need to develop mesh networks as a backup to existing networks. Should already have had one to roll out to Ukraine so that Russia couldn’t continue to disrupt their wireless + internet; we still don’t have one in case of emergencies like Hurricane Ian last September.

  17. A Better Mitch says:

    Both drought/ western water use and the state of carrot growing are subjects near and dear to my heart as a nearly retired small organic farmer. Briefly, a reminder that those so called baby carrots are not youngsters at all, but full sized slender carrots cut into 2″ lengths, peeled, polished, and packaged as “baby cut” or some such euphemism. The nutrition profile of skillfully grown organic vegs. is in another league from those on the supermarket shelves. The giant water-logged CA strawbs available at retail are a pale imitation of Midwest or NW or CA berries grown without yield and shelf life as the only goals. The WAPO article on Dutch ag. was fascinating, and the economies of scale they bring to the greenhouse/ hydroponic industry are laudable and worth adopting, but small farms growing produce and raising livestock on dirt and grass are an essential part of the mix. Cheap food policy and religion are dual opiates of the masses. Both crumbling leave the field wide open for huge improvements or further consolidation of prod. and dist. into fewer and fewer hands.

    • Rayne says:

      In re: baby-cut or baby-style — I’ve shared this link to a video in the post and in comments here showing how they’re produced.

      Small farms, particularly organic ones, definitely made the case for themselves with avian flu. So many of the corporate farms had to kill off all their birds while smaller farms were able to protect theirs. In my local stores organic eggs may be the only ones easy to find right now, and at prices comparable to the Big Egg corporate producers. Our problem is the business model and ensuring small farms stay small but successful — how do we prevent co-option by Big Ag through changes in domestic policy?

    • earthworm says:

      no one talks about living beyond your means in a trenchant, real world way. the american mantra has been for too long, you really can have it all!
      except for Rayne and a few others.
      so many credulous consumers really think these are “baby carrots,” not just the product of creative carving and a catchy name.
      there is little real knowledge or interest about what is put “in the pie-hole” (a phrase i learned here at EW).
      “wildflower” honey; “cage-free” eggs; “wild-sourced;” those “fabulous strawberries” grown on methyl bromate soaked CA soils. Americans are either cynical about the quality of their sustenance, or ignorant about it, but either way they put up with adulterated, stale, moldy, salmonella coated “food.”
      some think they can buy their way to a superior diet or lifestyle, insulated from the wastrel effects of human heedlessness, but at some point even the well heeled face existential questions when we’ve laid waste to the real capitol needed for life on earth.
      the fishermen who reject catch limits as they remorselessly hunt down the last tuna, the last cod, the last herring. the wheat farmers who want to pump the aquifer down at the expense of ruination to entire regions; the almond and avocado orchards planted and irrigated where there is no water for them — they are all invading capitol, our only real capitol, in the most basic way.

  18. vegeholic says:

    Thanks for this post and for link to the WP article. I think we have a LOT to learn from the Netherlands, not just about agriculture, also about transportation, i.e. BICYCLES. I have been growing carrots in my backyard for ~30 years, and they are ok, I think the soil has too much clay (Indiana). But the best carrot I ever tasted came from the farmers market at Union Square in NYC. I presume it came from a local farm in New Jersey or Long Island.

    • P J Evans says:

      Carrots like deep, sandy or loamy soil. Clay isn’t it.
      We didn’t do well with any root crops (and home-grown beets taste like store-bought) but thinning beet seedlings gets you greens for salads.

      • P J Evans says:

        What we did grow was tree and vine crops: peaches, apricots, almonds – that tree was planted in the lawn – loganberries (allegedly thornless, which means prickly) and grapes. Clay holds water, once it’s absorbed it, so less irrigation if you don’t let it dry out.

        In CA, they grow rice on hardpan, in the upper Sacramento valley, because the water will stand on it. Needs a bit less water, plus they run some water in after harvest, and turn it into habitat for migrating waterfowl.

      • ExRacerX says:

        True—we’re in New Mexico, and our 2021 carrots were tiny, so I added a bag of sand to the root veggies end of our little garden in ’22 and mixed it in well, and the carrots & parsnips flourished.

    • Rayne says:

      Carrots didn’t do well for us in neighboring Ohio, either. We lived outside Columbus; my dad had to start our first garden with a pick axe to break up the clay. In hindsight I never thought as a child to wonder at his naïve approach — just grab a pick axe and go to it — but as an adult I realize his upbringing in Hawaii wouldn’t have prepared him to do anything else. LOL

      But carrots in Michigan do pretty well, we’re the 4th largest producer. Potatoes do GREAT, so much so we have an annual potato festival here. Ditto sugar beets. We’re good on root vegetables north of the border with Ohio and Indiana.

  19. Kick the Darkness says:

    Thanks for an engaging thread bringing forward all the interesting comments. From carrots on a dry CA plain to the big picture. It would be wonderful if someone could popularize all the innovative local water banking/economics of the commons stuff that is going on in the west with the same flare that Reisner brought to the underlying problems in his book. An update on solutions if you will. Maybe that’s out there but if so have not seen it. What I’ve seen is often pretty dry (bad pun) and academic. This thread could easily be worked into an introductory chapter to such a work, at least for my money. It’d be a helluva project….

    A little story. My dad worked on water issues for most of his professional career. He is pretty deep in Alzheimer’s now and often in that fog. A big part of this past year was driving (yes, really) kids from California out to see aging grandparent in Michigan and Florida post-shut down. As an aside, it was clear from those trips that the predicted “red wave” was just a twitter outrage pipe dream. But anyway, walked in my dad’s house in FLA and he looks up, snaps into focus and says “How’s water conversation in California going”?

  20. gmoke says:

    I’ve been involved in local agriculture since the mid-1970s here in MA. We rebuilt the network of farmers’ markets and increased the number of local farmers but there is so much more we could do but it all takes time. For instance, the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model took about 20 years to be adapted to the harvest of local fish. (Incidentally, I hear OH has some very good local ag infrastructure.)

    These days, I collect links to developments in urban and advanced agriculture at which is also a free listserv (just let me know if you want to subscribe). There are many exciting ideas bursting forth but, again, I find it disappointing that there are only two or three indoor vertical agriculture operations I’ve found who thought about energy efficiency from the very beginning. Water and nutrient use are all carefully considered but, somehow, they don’t think about energy. Yet.

    The Dutch, I’ve read, are planning on being the breadbasket of the world. Yet, I read that Dutch farmers are angry that the government wants to buy up and close down up to 3000 “factory” farms to comply with EU greenhouse gas emissions targets. Push/pull, never static.

    As for CA, I worry about flooding in the Spring from the above average snowmelt and would like to think that hydrologists are planning to do something about it before the mountain snows actually melt.

  21. Tom DeVries says:

    Reporting a story, some years back, I spent some time in the Salinas area of California. One thing I learned: celery fresh from the field, is sweet, crisp, not at all stringy. Its sugars convert, just an ear of corn’s, and celery in the grocery store produce section can be weeks since harvest. A different and much degraded vegetable than it was.

  22. observiter says:

    Thanks for the article and topic, Rayne. Excellent info, and timely. I love carrots — newly picked ones! I wish I could currently have a garden.

    I’m in California and have been interested in water and agriculture topics for decades. I was going to suggest several books, but others beat me to it. How about that (old) movie, “Chinatown?” California has a long history concerning water policies, politics, agriculture and water use.

    A major California water “ownership” controversy going since the early 1900s focuses on the Klamath Basin — upper central valley land that straddles Oregon and California. It’s an incredible area — rich in history, geology (volcanoes!) and wildlife (it’s a major north-south bird migratory route, and nesting location for bald eagles). In the early 1900s, the U.S. government gave extensive amounts of land away FOR FREE (which included water rights) to folks wanting to settle/farm that area. The local Indian tribe (Modoc) was “moved” to another state, but not without several battles.

    The farmers are still there in this desert-like environment, growing crops typically appropriate in less harsh environments, and using over-head irrigation methods. Dams were built along the Klamath River to help the farmers water the crops, but the fish paid the price for this. Several Indian tribes (Klamath, Hurok, Kuruk), dependent on the fish, also paid the price.

    I came across an overview article from UCBerkeley School of Journalism:

    I’m not an expert with greenhouse growing methods, but I understand mold can be an issue and that chemicals are used on greenhouse crops to prevent it.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh yeah, brings back all of Dick the barnacle branch Cheney’s interference in PNW water and the massive salmon die-off in 2002.

      In re: mold — organic producers will certainly be far more cautious about what they use to keep down mold, which can happen even outside greenhouses. In my own system using Kratky method and in microgreen gardening I use cinnamon to prevent mold and fungus on growing medium, and hydrogen peroxide in the water-food solution. Both are food safe (ex. H2O2: 3ml/1gal water). Some growing mediums don’t encourage mold at all (ex. rock wool).

  23. Paul A Johanson says:

    Thanks for this, Rayne! I’m always shocked to realize how little awareness many have of where and how their vegetables are produced, after nurturing at least a few in varying sizes of patches going back at least fifty years. Thanks also for weaving in related issues. That water shutoff in AZ is just a harbinger for a state overdue for some restrictions on golf courses and Middle East water exploiters. It occurs to me to wonder what fraction of the cost of responding to the atmospheric rivers in CA it would take to at least get a start on using the repeated downpours to recharge aquifers in both states.

    • Naomi Schiff says:

      One problem with recharging those aquifers: some no longer can hold as much water. In over-pumping them, the land above has subsided, contracting capacity. USGS map shows southern San Joaquin Valley subsidence land_subsidence california-subsidence-areas

      • Rayne says:

        That. The collapse beneath the Friant-Kern Canal which required repair to the canal is an example of subsidence. If they try to recharge that area, the canal will be raised again, probably damaging the repair work along with the canal.

        Link to the Friant Water Authority map: — the area between Tulare River and Shafter Airport-Minter Field has subsided.

        (Coincidentally, Minter Field happens to be across the road from Grimmway Farms, a carrot producer.)

        • P J Evans says:

          We were aware of subsidence at work – it affected our long-distance plumbing. (Utility company dealing in gas distribution. We were building a GIS system so we knew exactly what was in the ground and where, and could find and fix it in the dark after a quake or in a fire.)

      • Kick the Darkness says:

        CA passed a groundwater management act awhile back, and as I recall there were supposed to be management plans in place to achieve balanced basin depletion/recharge rates like in the pretty immediate future. I wonder how that’s going.

        • Kick the Darkness says:

          For those interested, I did do a scratch the surface look. The CA sustained groundwater management act was passed in 2014. Plans for critical basins are already due but many plans are being deemed inadequate at the state level. The goal is for sustainability is to be achieved through implementation of these plans by 2040. Some plans have been approved and can be downloaded from an easy to find SGMA portal. For example, there is a >1000 page pdf plan covering the Kern county sub-basin. It is worth a look if only to get a sense of the complexity of the issues. Meanwhile Twitter is fluffed up and agape about whether George Santos dressed up in drag down in Brazil, like a baby bird hungry for its next meal.

          Reporters covering SGMA: Ian James, LA times. Nick Bowlin and Caroline Tracey at High Country News. James had a good piece in December of last year to the effect that GRACE satellite monitoring indicates CA aquifer depletion is accelerating as users rush to drill new wells and get ahead of the regulation.

  24. Bill Crowder says:

    My over-the-road trucker niece tells me that a produce hauler trick is to pour bleach on the trailer floor so that the strawberries would turn red by the time the strawberries arrived in the Midwest from Cali. She won’t haul them or eat shipped strawberries.

    So shipping is another problem.

  25. HikaakiH says:

    This is off-topic but I was just over at DKos and saw a post referencing a Golfweek article that discusses how money from the Saudi’s national investment fund, under direction from MBS, flows to Trump. The LIV Tour has an anti-trust suit against the PGA and some financial details came up in discovery. So, it seems that Rayne was right [a few years back now] to see Trump’s golf businesses as a ready conduit for laundering payments.
    Here’s a ‘spaced-out’ link to the Golfweek article: https:// golfweek.usatoday. com/2023/01/14/lynch-saudis-dodging-us-court-huge-liv-golf-impact/
    And here’s a ‘spaced-out’ link to the Kos piece: https:// www. stories/2023/1/18/2147876/–Mohammed-bin-Salman-has-been-paying-Donald-Trump-unknown-millions-for-the-past-two-years
    Not a lot of facts there, but a good solid piece of work by Eamon Lynch whose job is to write about golf but has the sense to see the bigger picture of what is playing out with LIV.

  26. Jim Luther says:

    The agriculture system is both highly productive, and extremely complex and brittle. There was a story about 10 years ago on strawberry production in California that is worth a read for anyone interested in the agricultural system. npr[dot]org/sections/thesalt/2012/05/17/152522900/the-secret-life-of-californias-world-class-strawberries

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for that. The fungicide issue is a water problem as well.

      There was a phenomenal photo by AP’s Noah Berger this week smack in the middle of January 18’s LA Times’ front page. I wish I could share it more easily because it touches on the magnitude of the problem for CA strawberry growers. All the water will make risk of fungus even more likely.

      ADDER: There, figured out how to share it. Berger got right into the field along with these beleaguered workers; his photo shows a portion of this field’s crop under the plastic protecting the fungus-free soil/planting mix and berry plants, but the plants are weeks away from blooming and more to fruit suitable for harvest.
      Photo: strawberry field drainage managed by workers in California during heavy rains (Noah Berger/AP via LA Times, 18 JAN 2023)
      There was little discussion about the context of this photo in the accompanying article.

  27. Harry Eagar says:

    I already knew about carrots but read the story, curious to know if the writer knew about them. Answer: Not much.

    The salient fact about carrots is that they are grown in, essentially, pure poison. Commercial carrot production requires more than 10 times as much pesticide/fungicide as the next most vulnerable crop. That’s a lot of poison.

    Also, the big issue with American agriculture is labor. It is not needed to grow cereals, which is why Middle America is filled with resentful unemployed rural fascists; and is almost unavailable for crops like carrots, which means immigrants and thus adds to the resentment of the rural fascists.

    • Rayne says:

      First, I do know about the chemicals used on crops. I used to work for a chemical company which made some of the chemicals. However many of the crops in question, including carrots, are grown organically, thereby limiting the amount of chemicals. The one thing all crops grown in Kern County have in common is their water source and it’s loaded with oil waste liquids and TPC which I did note and about which I linked while limiting my discussion.

      Frankly, Americans who can’t grasp vegetables are grown in soil are likely not ready to grasp the chemicals used in U.S. produce farming. I also didn’t feel like writing a fucking book; this post was already +2000 words long.

      And yes, labor is a big challenge for US ag, but all the more reason to move to more productive methodologies as the Dutch are using. You can argue CA’s adjacency to Mexico explains the reason why much of our produce farming has concentrated there, but the same seasonal workers from Mexico are employed in other states like Michigan. Who do you think picks the nation’s apples and cherries, the same fruits resentful unemployed fascists eat in cereal country? The apples and cherries growing in the backyards of other fascists who schemed to kidnap and murder a blue state governor?

      Your cereal country fascists are the way they are because they’re told to be by their chosen authority figures. If they were really so desperate for employment and angry at migrant labor for taking jobs here those cereal fascists could get off their asses and go to work picking fruit since fruit pickers have been in short supply for at least a decade.

      But thanks for the implied warning that fascists will also threaten greenhouses as they do anything else they refuse to understand — like solar farms.

      • Harry Eagar says:

        I haven’t looked up what percentage of commercial carrot production is organic but it cannot be much.

        Murricans who have a safety net will not do stoop labor. At any price. Having done some strawberry and blueberry picking, I know why.

        Try getting some picked crab. It used to be picked by African-American women on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, who had virtually no other paid employment for 10 months of the year. Times change. Nowadays, crab is picked — if at all – by Latin immigrants.

        Same explanation explains the decline of truck farms in the N. Carolina-to-Maryland region. The land is there, the climate is there, the customers are there. The workers are not.

            • Rayne says:

              Where do you think the carrots in children’s public school lunches come from? Half the kids in my school district eat federally subsidized lunches, which means they’re served produce including CA carrots. Not produce from a mysterious garden labeled “for federally subsidized lunches only.”

              I suspected you were trolling here but now I’m sure of it with your change in subject, a form of whataboutism. Beat it.

            • bmaz says:

              Hi there Harry, I’m interested in how my family and friends eat, as well as poor people. In short, everybody. And how much local water it takes to do so.

  28. Savage Librarian says:

    Thanks, Rayne! Once upon a time I had a small, hydroponic herb garden. Then I gifted it to someone else. Now I miss it. I might have to get another one…

    As far as carrots go:

    If you pare it, a carrot has merit in another realm, too. But you need to share it in the here and now, where you and yours must be satisfied they’ll only inherit the wind of whatever you declare it:

    “Future – Mask Off (Carrot Cover)”

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