Hello, blog. I know you and I haven’t talked in a while.
I’ve been a little busy. I’ve been totally procrastinating.
I changed the name of my blog from… my name. I have made a journey in my writing from, “Everyone can homestead!” to, “Actually, permaculture is a little better than homesteading,” to, “Oh my god, the only people who can have good food are rich people and the middle class is disappearing!” I realized somewhat suddenly that talking about growing your own food is all well and good, but it’s not realistic for a lot of people because they are barely surviving the middle class. Everyone is slowly but surely slipping below the poverty line. The gap between the Haves and the Have Nots is growing wider every year.
I recently returned from an amazing roadtrip down the coast from Vancouver Island to Palm Desert, California, then back up again inland. This means that I saw most of western Washington, Oregon, and a huge amount of California within a two-week period. We camped the entire way, with the exception of staying at a hotel in Portland so I could visit my favourite bookstore (Powell’s).
What I learned is that Oregon has amazing camping (thanks Oregon!), and that California is a scary dustbowl and we are all going to die.
Just kidding. Kind of.
This is a photo of Lake Shasta that I managed to take from a moving car because I was trying to get out of California as fast as possible.
I also saw a lot of signs like this because we took quite a few back roads into farm country.
Or this one:
The drought in California is getting so bad that they are going to cut off the irrigation water to a large number of farms.
Why is this a problem? For one thing, California grows 15% of America’s produce supply, and 7.7% of its livestock (source). This doesn’t include what is exported to Canada (quite a lot). That’s a LOT of food.
The other reason this is a problem is because as soon as you drive over a ridge back into civilization in California, it’s as if there isn’t a drought. I saw lush green lawns being watered with ample sprinkler coverage, roads being sprayed down to decrease dust, swimming pools, man-made ponds inside huge golf greens, and a million other ways that water was being horribly and uselessly wasted.
The luxury of water is evidently a privilege of the wealthy city-dweller, and not the right of the farmers living modestly in the centre of their barren land, unable to grow anything.
But, the cities are not all to blame. I also saw acres and acres of newly planted orange groves, old orange groves, small orange groves, and big commercial operations. I counted a handful out of hundreds that used any kind of soil cover to prevent evaporation. In fact, those few orange groves were the only farms that I saw ANY evaporation prevention. Forget the big produce farms.
The people living in California are not adapting to their environment, and in turn, so are we. It’s the desert! Do you really believe that you can reliably depend on unlimited water resources far into the future - in the desert? We have depended on California for our produce for decades now, and we have no alternative system. We have chosen convenience over intelligence and now we have depleted the water supplies, can’t grow the same food in the same way, and as a result, it’s just going to cost more.
And guess what? It’s just going to make surviving the middle class that much harder.
PS: Check out this page for more on the California water crisis.