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California's Almonds Suck as Much Water Annually as Los Angeles Uses in Three Years

Stashed in: Awesome, California, Water!, Oasis, Climate Change!, Nuts!

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Hey all you lactose-intolerant hipsters... can you stop killing California please?

That chartoon above is nuts. All San Francisco water needs are tiny compared to nuts. 

California's worst drought on record isn't stopping the state from growing massive amounts of nuts: The state produces over 80 percent of the world's almonds and 43 and 28 percent of the world's pistachios and walnuts, respectively. As Mother Jones' Tom Philpott details in this longread, the state's almond market in particular has taken off: What was a $1.2 billion market in 2002 became $4.8 billion market by 2012.

Why are the almond growth rates so...nuts? (Sorry.) One reason is that the average American now eats two pounds of the crunchy snack per year—more than twice as much as a decade ago. But the biggest demand is coming from abroad: The US now exports 70 percent of almonds.

The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. Residents across the state are being told to take shorter showers and stop watering their lawns, but the acreage devoted to the state's almond orchards have doubled in the past decade. The amount of water that California uses annually to produce almond exports would provide water for all Los Angeles homes and businesses for almost three years.

Does climate change mean saying goodbye to the nut industries of California? It's possible. 

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