California Drought & B.C.’s Food Security

The current drought levels in California are a wake up call that B.C. needs to become more self-reliant to secure our access to healthy food for our future. Drought has persisted in California over the past three years, with the majority of the state in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two worst categories. In 2010, 67% of B.C. vegetable imports came from the U.S., over half of which were produced in California, including 95% of all broccoli and 74% of all lettuce. Price increases of between 20% and 34% have been predicted for a variety of fruits and vegetables across North America this year due to the drought in California. Between July 2103 and 2014, produce prices in B.C. have increased between 5.7% and 9.6%. If these trends continue for the next five years price increases of 25%-50% are predicted for many fruits and vegetables, adding an extra $30-$60 to the average B.C. household’s monthly grocery bill. For example: If broccoli was $2.36/lb the assumption is that if prices increase by 25% each year for five years, a pound of broccoli could cost up to $7. In B.C. vegetable crop production fell by 20.4% between 1991 and 2011, with significant decreases in several staple crops. The on-going drought in California underscores the need to increase B.C.’s food self reliance, especially in regards to vegetables and fruits that B.C. is able to produce locally, yet has become dependent on California and other locations for.