For farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley—the Saudi Arabia of nuts—2021 brought many challenges. Scant snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range delivered almost no irrigation water to the region’s vaunted complex of dams and aqueducts. Record-high temperatures baked farm fields. Before this past weekend’s furious storms, California endured its driest year in recorded history. Yet the region’s ever-expanding and very thirsty almond and pistachio operations are thriving anyway.
-Written by Tom Philpott, food and ag correspondent for Mother Jones.