In case you didn’t know, California’s Central Valley produces an absurd amount of food for the U.S. and the world, and while the recent drought-fueled restrictions on water don’t impact farmers, the state’s agriculture sector has been hard-hit by the lack of rainfall over the past four years.
Here’s what California’s Central Valley grows: Almonds, apples, blackberries, cherries, figs, grapes, lemons, olives, grapes (wine), peaches, persimmons, broccoli, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, lettuce, pistachio nuts, plums, pomegranates, walnuts, and different types of melons. A huge amount of dairy farms are also located in the state, making California the leading producer of milk in the U.S.
There hasn’t been a huge spike in food prices at grocery stores due to the recent drought, but they will be coming soon, say experts. “We haven’t fully realized the impact of the drought in California,” economist Annemarie Kuhns with the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service told USA Today. “It takes time before the effects are seen at the retail level. And once you see drought conditions start to improve you’ll see these effects further down the road.”
The state’s vast almond orchards has been one of the hardest-hit crops, as approximately 10 percent of California’s water goes to farming the nut, according to a Slate report last year. “California is the most productive agricultural state in the union, and agriculture uses 80 percent of California’s water. In a year with practically none of the stuff, that’s enough to send ripple effects throughout the country,” Slate’s Eric Holthaus wrote.
To get an idea, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says California produces about half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, including about 95 percent of broccoli 98 percent of garlic, 99 percent of almonds, 88 percent of apricots, 91 percent of grapes, 97 percent of kiwifruit, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of nectarines, and 99 percent of walnuts.
So this week, California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25 percent water use reduction–the first in the state. “People should realize we are in a new era,” Brown said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “The idea of your nice little green grass that gets water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”
“We have to save water however we can, and we have to pull together,” Brown said. The restrictions will hit campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and and other big landscapes across the state.