It will be Earth Day on Wednesday, so it’s time to focus on current state of our natural resources, and the implications that has upon our future. Five years ago my friend Joe DiMaggio Jr. invited me to be part of a television pilot called The Lost Chronicles of Food. Joe had been collecting manuscripts (many predating the first recorded recipes), since his childhood. Together with his producer Marc Gomez, we cooked an amazing historical feast with dishes dating back as far as 1200 years ago! Then we sat down to a sumptuous meal with a fascinating guest list including a leading Anthropologist from UCLA to discuss how and why our food has evolved through the centuries. I remember feeling mildly alarmed yet incredulous when the he casually projected that “in fifteen years we will be fighting wars over water, not oil.”
With the current unprecedented drought here in California it seems his predictions are hauntingly not that far fetched. Another scientist described the drought crisis like this, “Think of the reservoirs as the checkbook, and the ground water as our savings accounts. We use our checking accounts to pay our immediate needs, but the bulk of our funds should be in savings to provide for our longterm needs throughout retirement. We have only enough savings left to keep us going for one year!” Think about that folks, we’re not just talking about running out of a greed driven resource like oil, humans (and all living creatures) need water to survive. That’s scary! It’s time to pay attention and find real solutions.
California is the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States, that means the drought effects everyone, not just Californians. However, our food production is an enormous part of the problem. The New York Times wrote, “farmers are drilling wells at a feverish pace and pumping billions of gallons of water from the ground, depleting a resource that was critically endangered even before the drought, now in its fourth year”.
On April 7th, California Governor Jerry Brown issued the first ever state mandated water cuts. California cities and towns must drop their water usage by 25% or face high fines, while he apparently gave a pass to the northern farming communities responsible for consuming nearly 80% of the the state’s water supply. I get it – we all need food and agriculture is a large part of the state’s economy, but as a city-dwelling homeowner I’m still not happy.
This is not California’s “first time at the rodeo.” Most of us city dwellers already have low-flush toilets, energy efficient appliances, and know the drill when it comes to taking half-full baths instead of showers, waiting for full loads before running laundry, turning the taps off while you brush teeth until ready to rinse, and “if it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.” On the surface it may seem we don’t need big green expanses of golf courses and yards, but without them our air quality will quickly deteriorate (along with the value of our properties).
If you listened closely above, the anthropologist made his prediction 5 years ago, but the drought only started 4 years ago – that’s because it is not just weather we have to blame – the infrastructure is broken. Our water system is simply too antiquated.
” California is the world leader when it comes to innovation, technology and human progress. We have some of the best research universities in the world like Caltech, USC, Stanford, Berkeley and others. Some of the best technology companies and the brightest minds in the world are headquartered in California. Start an immediate program to fund research and solutions for the water mismanagement problem.” – Change.org. (please click and sign the petition).
Change.org also goes on to offer possible solutions, “the Columbia river dumps millions of gallons of water in the ocean everyday,” so why not build an aqueduct to channel that water down from Oregon and Washington states? We have sophisticated means of harnessing solar power now, so we should be developing decelinazation methods that are more environmentally friendly, and we should initiate sanctions that enforce more efficient and sustainable farming practices that do not deplete and pollute our dwindling water supply.
However, I don’t think that lets the individual off the hook. Maybe it’s time to rethink the crops and livestock we consume too – it would certainly not be the first time throughout history man’s diet has had to evolve to survive. The Huffington Post published an article on how much water it takes to produce various types of food we typically consume today, which got me wondering wether the drought will actually make an impact on how we eat, and if so how?
I know I’ll probably never willingly exclude meat from my diet entirely, but I have been leaning into a more of a plant based diet for several years now. It’s more about changing habits, then extreme abstinence, but if I had to, I now know I could survive without animal products, could you? What changes to your diet would you be willing to make to conserve a life-sutaining resource?
The Personal Chef Approach offers yet another water conserving solution. When you cook once, to enjoy homemade meals in minutes all week long – you also do the majority of your washing up in one go. Fill one side of your sink with sudsy water, and the other with plain water to rinse (rather than running your faucet the whole time). While we’re on the subject of conserving resources, you’ll also save both time and money. Please watch the video above for more about why the PCA can can do for you!