Should we Stop Eating Almonds?

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The water crisis in India raises concerns of global climate change endangering not only the availability of water for consumption, but also for agricultural and infrastructure use. Prevalent coal power plants in India rely on water to generate steam for electricity, water needed for concrete for infrastructure, and reservoirs are running dry. Things have gotten so bad that farmers have attempted to steal water to survive and with a growing population, India’s water needs are only going to be harder to address in the future. Growing up in places like the Pacific Northwest where water has always been plentiful and best of all clean, water is too often taken for granted. So what is to say that this cannot happen here in the U.S.?

Mark Bittman’s Op-Ed Fear of Almonds answers this question, not as a matter of if it will happen, but when. He uses California as an example where water is becoming dangerously scarce not necessarily because of environmental reasons, but because of irresponsible and inefficient agricultural practices. Bittman argues that food commodities such as almonds contribute to the water issue since they require a lot of water to grow and that about one eight of the irrigated land in California is planted with almonds since they are profitable. He attempts to bring the reader into the reality of how political ecology is affecting all of us by raising awareness that water is plentiful, but not infinite. Rising food prices, in particular meat, are indicative of water becoming scarcer. Bittman presents a solution to improve agricultural efficiency by “planting crops that can thrive with less water means that production of food that needs lots will shift to places with a more bountiful supply” (Bittman, 3). However change is difficult and he does not see expect that change to be immediate.

The point Bittman makes is that we are a part of the system of food, culture, and politics where the focus on profit causes shortsightedness in the understanding of the relationship between sustainability, hidden water, and food. Inefficient usage of water on crops such as almonds, may produce large profits for the growers and export traders, however it fails to benefit the general population in the long run since food prices will skyrocket as water prices rise. His hope is for people to understand the dire need to relieve pressure on water consumption and to take into account the environmental costs by finding solutions that do not rid of opportunities for economic success, but simply to redesign, reorganize, and think in longer term.

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