California Sunday Magazine has a feature profiling farmers losing their water to nut growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley: “Dry”. It’s a story of wells going deeper and deeper in search of a shrinking aquifer, and the change from small landowner-run operations to huge orchards owned by overseas investors. I thought this paragraph was worth sharing:
The math is simple: Each acre of nuts produces 3,000 pounds of crop. Each pound sells for more than $3. It takes only 100 acres to make a million-dollar harvest every year. So farmers have pulled out cotton and stone fruit and grapes to plant nuts. They’ve bought hog wallows and coached up the ground to plant nuts. They’ve gone into the hillsides, mostly because drip irrigation lines can take them there, to plant nuts. It’s as if middle California has undergone a change of civilizations.
That kind of major change in land use, and the resulting social and ecological shifts, is exactly what archaeologists look for when they examine the changes between ancient civilizations.