How Much Does U.S. Agriculture Depend on California?

Staff Writer
Journalist explores how much the American produce market relies on California

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Even if you’ve never been to California, chances are, you’ve eaten something produced there. Writing for Slate, a daily online magazine covering news, politics, business, and culture, journalist Brian Palmer recently posed the question: If California were to vanish, what would we eat? And it turns out, more grains and more expensive produce.

California produces a dramatic majority of many fruits, vegetables, and nuts in the United States. Dramatic as in: 99 percent of artichokes and walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis and plums, and 95 percent of celery and garlic. The list doesn’t stop there, either. As Palmer notes, “No other state, or even a combination of states, can match California’s output per acre.”

Moreover, according to the Agricultural Statistical Review, “Across the nation, U.S. consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in California.” 

In other words, if one of the Internet’s more elderly viral videos turns out to be right in its prediction that California will break off from the United States “to go hang with Hawaii,” produce prices would skyrocket, and other states would be forced to — try to — pick up the slack.  

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