By: Shreeya Indap
Earlier this month, I excitedly buckled up my seatbelt in the back of my mom’s car, sitting in anticipation for my upcoming cruise to Mexico. During the next 7 hours to the Long Beach Port, we trudged on through the seemingly never ending grassy hills and farms of the valley. I was only a young child the last time I’d ventured into these areas of California, so I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary when I peeked my head out the window. That wasn’t the case for my mom, however.
“What’s that dust storm looking thing over there?” she asked, pointing to a little tornado forming from the ground.
Brushing it off, I replied, “Oh it’s probably just coming from the back of that truck. Nothing to be worried about, I’m sure it’s normal.”
In a few minutes however, we also began to notice many signs on the sides of the road, displaying messages such as “No Water = No Jobs” or “Congress Created Dust Bowl”. Once back from the cruise, we immediately investigated the signs, who put them up and why they are there. They were from a group called Families Protecting the Valley, which, according to their site, “is a coalition of farmers, agriculture providers and community leaders in the San Joaquin Valley who find it vital to promote the necessary resources and government policies that will provide long-term agriculture jobs, a safe and reliable food and water supply, and economic security for farmers.”
And, as I found out, the dust tornadoes we were seeing were indeed something to be worried about. They’re part of the two problems that California farmers are facing. One is that because of the drought, there isn’t as much water as there once was, creating the extremely dry and dusty conditions that I saw on my trip. Couple that with any wind and you’ve got yourself a dust tornado. But further, water isn’t distributed properly: most sources agree agriculture should use 80% of a state’s water, but the FPV claims that their share is around 40%. This means that “farms are dying, families are losing their livelihoods and there’s no end in sight,” according to Shelby Pope.
Not to be completely one-sided, there are some issues with the ways we’re using our water, making growing food a waste of water if we don’t do it right. First of all, farmers grow huge surpluses to make prices extremely low, leading Americans to overbuy food and waste 25% of it before consumption. Additionally, producing foods such as almonds, which require a lot more water than others, shouldn’t be grown in drought conditions. All this water could easily be conserved or reserved for foods that need it less.
Overall however, California has been consistently dry and the government should consider the priorities of where water needs to go, in addition to farmers growing the right foods in the right amounts. Remember to vote this November for the resolutions and candidates that will help in this battle against another drought. (Keep an eye out for some of our recommendations in a few months!) And as always, make sure you’re taking efforts to conserve water yourself to help combat these issues.
P.S. We hope to see you this weekend at our booth at FCAC’S “Art in the Park”. Come out to make some environmentally-friendly art and have some environmentally-friendly fun!