September 3rd, 2010 | melody | No Comments »
Climate Change is real. Pretty much every respected scientist and climatologist agree on that point. There is some discussion as to whether or not the change is affected or impacted by human activities. For most farmers, they have little time to engage in that argument; what matters most to them is what the weather looks like today, and what it will be tomorrow. These headlines really tell the story: “Salinas’ coldest summer in 48 years suddenly gave way Monday to the hottest day of the year — and set a record for the date . . . Warmer than normal high temperatures were reported Monday across most of California as weak ridging dominated the weather pattern . . . A flash-flood warning was issued this afternoon for portions of northern Los Angeles County. The National Weather Service said a storm system capable of producing heavy rain, hail and 50 mph winds was moving into the Antelope Valley.” And this is just in the United States. The most tragic headline from weather conditions we have seen this year are “Floods in Pakistan and China have caused loss and damage of life damage that will take years to recover. ”
2010 has been dominated by extreme natural phenomena, becoming known as the year of “global weirding”. Heat waves are just one of the many dramatic forces in weather that have been wreaking havoc across the world, scorching populations from South America to the Middle East. Fifteen countries have set new records for high temperatures so far this year, and two have matched their prior record.
The ramifications of these weather conditions are extremely significant and are becoming more frequent and impacting with greater severity. Peaches, nectarines, and plums can actually reverse their sugar content when the temperature goes over 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Oranges need a certain number of cool nights in order for the sugar and color to be just perfect. Apples that experience too much rain and cold during bloom can show condition problems months later after they come out of CA storage. Strawberries will literally melt on the vine if temperatures get too far above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Weather affects agriculture – that’s not a secret or even a mystery. We all understand that . . . well, until we notice that our favorite items are unavailable or cost much more than we expected. Our food is intrinsically connected to the forces of nature – we see this every time we purchase that strawberry or stock that apple. The quality of our food depends not only on the soil and water, but the weather conditions that occur daily throughout the world. Huge price and availability fluctuations are becoming the norm in our business, as the earth’s climate indeed seems to be changing.
While farmers scramble to adapt to the changing climate, retailers must do the same. If growers come up short, so will you. We will all be impacted. As retailers of fresh organic produce, it’s important to be adaptable and flexible. As weather patterns become more unpredictable (and all indications point to this being the norm) it becomes increasingly more important for you to become knowledgeable on weather and climate and how it affects our food supply. Shoppers will easily understand that there are no blueberries today when it is explained to them how recent drought conditions have limited this years crop. They tend to be less understanding, however, if our only response isthat ” they just aren’t available right now.” Increasingly, our success in the key role we play within our communities’ food supply will be linked to our ability and openness to become an information resource on farming conditions; most particularly, how Climate Change impacts our food supply. Information is power! Let’s breathe it in . . . and share it!