Perhaps it was inevitable. As the drought, now in its fourth year, has dragged wearily on, Californians began to point fingers – at the wealthy
, the environmentalists
, the bottled water industry
and, finally, at almonds.
Almonds? If you've been paying any attention at all, the state's almond growers have emerged as arguably the most visible bogeyman in our battles over water allocation and usage. When Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in January last year, he called upon the state's cities to cut back their water consumption. Almost immediately, the state's urban residents began asking why the state's massive agricultural sector wasn't being required to make serious cuts of its own.
That, said Robert “Bob” Curtis, was really the punch that gave the state's second largest commodity the black eye it's been working hard ever since to overcome. Curtis is director of agricultural affairs for the Almond Board of California
. From that point on, the punches kept coming. Stories in Atlantic Monthly
, Mother Jones
, and The New York Times
, among others, identified the little brown nut – a seed, actually, and a relative of the peach – as one of the state's biggest aqua profligates.