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That headline might seem sensationalist. You might be expecting to read about vegetable producers dipping your food in bleach. This is not the case. Yet the story is still shocking—and in the new episode below of How Does it Grow?, we reveal the labor-intensive method farmers go through to prevent their cauliflower from turning yellow.
As cauliflower matures in the field, the sun naturally alters the color of the head. If it is exposed too long to the sun, the curds turn a dull yellow. This doesn't affect the taste of the vegetable—in fact, it likely produces more phytonutrients—but it does affect our desire to buy it.
Somewhere along the way, consumers have come to believe that a good, healthy head of cauliflower should be white. We're not talking about heirloom varieties that come in dazzling colors like orange and purple, but your standard head of cauliflower that arrives in our supermarkets white as snow.
It may have to do with our tendency to equate the color white with cleanliness or with our demand for blemish-free, perfect-looking produce (and what better color to advertise perfection than white?). But the result is a harsh reality few of us realize: thousands of cauliflower heads get left to rot in the field each year for one reason only—we won't buy them.
Many of us think of food waste as the bread we don't eat from the complimentary bread basket at a restaurant or the leftovers we throw away at the end of the week. But it also encompasses the good food left in the field unpicked because farmers know it won't meet distributors' standards as dictated by us, the consumers.
When we set out to film our latest episode of "How Does it Grow?," a series that tells the stories of our food from field to fork, we didn't expect to uncover a story about food waste. But this, we've learned, is what happens when we reconnect ourselves to the sources of our food. A humble cauliflower can inform us of our critical role in an interconnected food system.
The next time you're at the grocery store, give that cauliflower with a touch of yellow a second look.
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Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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- California Emerged From Drought and Is Still Catching Fire - The ... ›
A warm day in winter used to be a rare and uplifting relief.
Now such days are routine reminders of climate change – all the more foreboding when they coincide with news stories about unprecedented wildfires, record-breaking "rain bombs," or the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets.
Where, then, can one turn for hope in these dark months of the year?