(OPINION) You may not care too much about what is going on in California right now, but you should. The worst drought in 1,200 years is absolutely devastating the production of fruits and vegetables in the state, and that is really bad news for all of us.

In particular, we are being warned that tomato production is likely to be way below expectations this year. But if California doesn’t grow enough tomatoes, there won’t be enough spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce or tomato paste to go around in 2023. And there will be a whole lot of really cranky people out there if that were to happen.

I really wish that more people would take this crisis seriously. If farmers do not grow our food, we do not eat. We need them to be successful, and right now they are repeatedly telling us that we are facing a scenario that we have never faced before. In California, the big issue is a lack of moisture. It takes a lot of water to grow tomatoes, and the head of the California Tomato Growers Association is openly admitting that “we desperately need rain”…


California leads the world in production of processing tomatoes — the variety that gets canned and used in commercial kitchens to make some of the most popular foods. The problem is the worst drought in 1,200 years is forcing farmers to grapple with a water crisis that’s undermining the crop, threatening to further push up prices from salsa to spaghetti sauce.

“We desperately need rain,” Mike Montna, head of the California Tomato Growers Association, said in an interview. “We are getting to a point where we don’t have inventory left to keep fulfilling the market demand.” Did you catch what he was saying in that last sentence?

When there isn’t enough inventory to meet demand, that is when shortages happen. Did you ever imagine that a day would come when we would see a tomato shortage in America? Even now, prices have risen to absolutely absurd heights. According to one industry insider, tomato paste prices “are up as much as 80% from a year ago”…

“There are simply not enough acres of processing tomatoes being planted this year to ensure that everybody gets their full supply,” said R. Greg Pruett, sales and energy manager for Ingomar Packing Co., one of the world’s biggest tomato processors. “The water is either too expensive or just not available at any cost.”

Such pressures are being reflected in Ingomar’s processed products. Tomato paste prices for clients of the company, which sells to some of the largest US food brands, are up as much as 80% from a year ago. With inventories dropping to critically low levels, though, supply isn’t available for everyone.

80 percent! I can’t get over that figure. And as California gets drier and drier, things are only going to get worse. Sadly, a lot of people out there simply do not understand the importance of California’s agriculture industry. Without California, we would be in a world of hurt… With warm climate and rich soil, California is a highly diverse agricultural state. California produces over a third of the US vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts. READ MORE


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