In the United States, when people say “eat your veggies,” they are
essentially urging you to take a bite out of California—or, more to the
point, take a a big swig of its increasingly scarce water supply.
How much do we rely on California for fruits and veg? With its rich
soils, variety of microclimates, long growing season, and huge
geographical footprint, California
should be a major ag
producer—certainly a regional food-production hub for the southwest.
But its sheer dominance of U.S. fruit and veg production (numbers from
the the California Department of Food and Agriculture (PDF)) is dizzying.
The state produces 99 percent of the artichokes consumed in the
U.S., half of asparagus , a fifth of cabbage, two-thirds of carrots, 86
percent of cauliflower, 93 percent of broccoli, and 95 percent of
celery. Leafy greens? California’s got the market corned: 90 percent of
the leaf lettuce we consume, along with and 83 percent of Romaine
lettuce and 83 percent of fresh spinach, come from the big state on the
left side of the map. Cali also cranks out a third of total fresh
tomatoes consumed in the U.S. – and 95 percent of ones destined for
cans and other processing purposes.
As for fruit, I get that 86 percent of lemons and a quarter of
oranges come from there; its sunny climate makes it perfect for citrus,
and these fruits store relatively well. Ninety percent of avaocados?
Fine. But 84 percent of peaches? Eighty-six percent of fresh
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