industrial agriculture drought vs fresh local food

Industrial agriculture vs fresh local food

What happens when the water runs out?

By Duane Slyder, Head Veggie Fairy & founder of Seasonal Roots:

A few years ago, I visited California’s Tulare County (pictured) with the Northern Neck Growers Association and 21 of Virginia’s finest farmers. We toured fields full of almond trees, sweet potatoes, lettuce, radicchio, and more.

Tulare County is the top agricultural producing county in the U.S., even though its natural state is desert-like. Average rainfall is just 7 inches. When intensive farming started there 50 years ago, farmers relied on snowfall in the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains to provide water for their summer crops. But then came years of severe drought. There was little snow to be seen when I was there.

Industrial agriculture has its limits

So we were walking with one of Tanimura & Antle’s field managers, Rob, in a 1500-acre field of mixed lettuce. I suddenly realized that I had actually bought some of their heads at a Virginia Kroger during our winter holiday hiatus that year – small world! Rob said with the drought, he and other farmers had been denied access to the mountain water they’d always relied on. They were forced to get all their water from wells, which were drying up. With so little experience on the land, they don’t know what they’re going to do in the long term.

California’s long drought was a warning: In the future, America may not be able to rely on far away places like Tulare County to provide so much of the nation’s produce. Experts say California will be short of water forever.

Farmer Joe Step came with us on that trip. His family has been farming their 120 acres in Virginia – growing broccoli, barley, and cucumbers – for 130 years. He plans to keep on farming. His family knows how to survive droughts and grow produce sustainably with the future in mind. Because he’s local, we can then deliver his produce to you within a couple of days, Dirt to Doorstep(R), while it’s still full of nutrients and flavor.

Support local farmers today… so they’ll be here when we need them tomorrow

This is why we founded Seasonal Roots: To make sure farmers like Joe, who know how to feed us, can keep on farming… so you can keep on getting the freshest food possible. That’s only possible when it’s local. When it comes to maximizing nutrients and flavor, industrial agriculture just can’t deliver. Thank you for making this important local food mission part of your life!


Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at