Whenever I hear somebody making vague overtures to food security because they want to divert more freshwater from fish and wildlife to irrigated agriculture it rubs me a little like climate deniers yelling ‘Climate-Gate’ for no reason other than to reinforce their own ignorance.

This post from OtPR takes an interesting, empirically motivated look at drought, food security, and food supply in California’s Central Valley.

For me the money quote is here:

A third of dried beans grown in California and half of the rice grown in California are exported. You know what? I think that’s great! Those are important food staples that provide direct protein and calories to humans. I am not anti-everything ag. But if we are growing 750,000 acres of nuts for the rest of the world, then we’re shipping 2.25MAF/year of water away in the form of pleasant snacks. Fuck that.

I am the most parochial person you know, and were it up to me, I wouldn’t be providing lettuce to places east of the Sierras either. Y’all have the entire Great Plains to work with; I am sure you could figure something out if California decided we’d rather have our ecosystems than send you cheap blueberries.

I’m not protectionist but there are very real, somewhat localized ecological consequences to allocating 90-ish% of our state’s freshwater to irrigated agriculture. And people suggesting that we should roll back the meager protections currently afforded our state’s fish and wildlife resources in order to continue to supply irrigation water in a drought should do better than the red herring that ‘food security’ seems to be.

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