This post is especially targeting to my readers in California, Oklahoma and Texas–the states most affected by this ongoing drought.
News released today suggests that the average household will spend an extra $500 per year on fruits and vegetables as farmers cut acreage and spend more on water due to the three-year drought.
California farmers produce half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, and most of its high-value crops such as broccoli, tomatoes and artichokes.
But the rising cost of water has forced farmers to idle about 500,000 acres of land and produce less, making certain foods more expensive.
“Lettuce prices increased the most and that’s a direct result of the California drought,” said Annemarie Kuhns, an economist with the USDA. “Almost 70% of the nation’s lettuce is grown in California.”
The department now expects 2014 U.S. fresh fruit prices to jump by up to 6%, up from its May projection of about 4%. A devastating citrus disease in Florida also sent citrus prices up 22.5% this year.
Consumers will also see a bump in dairy prices due to increased demand.
Drought conditions in states like Texas and Oklahoma have also driven up beef prices 9% this year, and the department expects that hike to continue.
“The drought in 2012 damaged a lot of feed crops,” Kuhns said. “As a result we have the lowest herd size in the U.S. since 1951.”
California’s three-year drought is also affecting staple crops such as rice, which could also cost 10% to 20% more this year, said Daniel Sumner, director of the Agriculture Issues Center at UC Davis.
Swelling prices have been an ongoing trend after the parched state survived its driest year on record.
Food prices rose half a percent in May, the largest hike since August 2011, according to the U.S. Labor Department, and California farmers expect the hikes to continue.
“Consumers will see rising food prices because farmers have had to significantly curtail production due to lack of water,” said April Mackie, an advisor for the American Farm Bureau.
I love that I and my family aren’t dependent on the rise and fall of fruit and vegetable prices, because we’re growing so much of it in our quarter-acre plot of land in the suburbs. Yep; you read that right. We have just a slip of land but we’re being creative about our use of space. The concrete patio slab has now become our living kitchen extension.
Every day, I mean, EVERY day, there’s something fresh, nutritious and organic ripe and ready to harvest.
And that’s just some of it. I’m also growing:
corn (for the kids; too much starch/sugar for me)
If this post has FINALLY motivated you to at least give growing your own food a try (lettuce is so easy, and can grow in shade!!) Might I direct you to a few resources:
If you’re ready to start NOW, forget about seeds. Purchasing starter plants at the garden center will give you a 1-2 month jump on the growing season. You’ll want to start saving money sooner than later.