"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
September 24, 2014
How Does the California Drought Affect You?
by Carolyn Nicolaysen

Author’s note: I was going to write a follow up to my last article on pandemics with some practical advice for preparing but I am very, very concerned that everyone understand the impact the drought in California will have on our wallets and lifestyle. Now is the time to listen to the council of the prophets and become more self-reliant.

“The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat. Gold is not to be compared with it in value.” Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses, 1: p. 250).

Could that time have come?

A few facts:

  • The year 2013 was so dry that mandatory water conservation orders are beginning to sweep across the state of California. The governor has declared an “extreme drought emergency.” Everyone in the state has been ordered to cut water consumption by 20%. The northern Sierra Nevada, a region crucial to statewide supply, received only 10% of average snowfall in December. Reservoir levels are 30-40% of normal. California is now designated as being in “Exceptional drough” the worst drought designation. To date 2014 precipitation rates are fifty percent of normal.

  • Most people think of California as a tourist destination where you can visit Hollywood film locations, see celebrities, enjoy Disneyland, and go to beaches. In addition to California ranking as the top tourist destination in the United States, with its 80,500 farms and ranches it also ranks as the top food producer for the nation. More than half of the country’s fruit, nuts, and vegetables come from California. Did you know that 90% or more of all the almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwi, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, strawberries, and walnuts consumed in the United States are grown in California, as well as 100% of the olives and 21% of the milk and cream? Not only just nuts and berries, but also most other fruit and vegetable varieties are grown by the truckload in California. You may think you don’t eat some of these, but do you use their byproducts such as olive oil? Many are used as ingredients in other foods we consume, such as ketchup and cereals. Higher prices on these crops will result in higher prices on any product using California-grown crops for ingredients.

  • California is rarely thought of as a cattle state, but it ranks fourth in nation-wide production behind Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska. California ranchers are already selling off their herds as feed and water become too expensive to maintain a profitable ranch.

What does the California drought mean for you? It means higher food prices, food shortages, water shortages for the big cities (Los Angeles and San Francisco), water shortages for states supplying drinking water to southern California, unemployment going up in California and for anyone transporting and processing foods throughout the country — and the list goes on.

It is time to take a serious look at our self-reliance preparations and especially our food storage. Can you afford food prices to increase? How will you feel when you have to do without due to shortages?

In my area butter has gone up $1.29 per pound in a month. Beef is up more than $2.00 per pound.

Almonds are just being harvested now, and the price is up more than a dollar from last year — and that is just the beginning. It will probably go up at least another dollar. No rain is expected here until November, and ranchers are concerned they will lose their orchards this winter.

Right now in just two of the 58 counties in California, there are 250,000 people being fed at food pantries. Most of them are unemployed due to the drought. Imagine the number statewide.

It doesn’t end there. Less food means fewer trucks transporting food, fewer jobs at canneries, higher prices at restaurants, fewer sales at restaurants resulting in few employees needed, fewer home purchases and other major purchases since more are unemployed, on and on.

“Cash is not food, it is not clothing, it is not coal, it is not shelter; and we have got to the place where no matter how much cash we have, we cannot secure those things in the quantities which we may need. … All that you can be certain you will have is that which you produce.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1937, p. 26.)

President Kimball counseled us to become self-reliant because the prophecies of old were coming to pass. He said, “Now I think the time is coming when there will be more distresses, when there may be more tornadoes and more floods, … more earthquakes. … I think they will be increasing probably as we come nearer to the end, and so we must be prepared for this” (Conference Report, Apr. 1974, p. 184).

Have we seen this happening the past ten years and increasing every year?

It’s time to take a serious look at storing food now. Vaughn J. Featherstone promised:

Change the mix in your family’s diet. Get your protein from sources less expensive than meat. The grocery bill is one bill that can be cut. Every time you enter the store and feel tempted by effective and honest merchandising to buy cookies, candy, ice cream, non-food items, or magazines — don’t!

Think carefully; buy only the essentials. Then figure what you have saved and spend it on powdered milk, sugar, honey, salt, or grain.

The Lord will make it possible, if we make a firm commitment … All we have to do is to decide, commit to do it, and then keep the commitment. Miracles will take place; the way will be opened ... We will prove through our actions our willingness to follow our beloved prophet and the Brethren, which will bring security to us and our families. (April 1976 General Conference)

What everyone should do now:

#1. Please pray for rain in California. This winter is forecast to have below normal precipitation. At the present time none of the reservoirs in California have normal water levels. In fact, none have water levels at more than 50% of capacity.

#2. Write to your Senators and Representatives and ask them to release the federal waters they are refusing to release. The water is flowing out to the ocean instead of to the farms. (Sorry to get political, but this affects you too!)

#3. Stock up now. If you find a great sale, stock up. If someone has produce they are willing to share, take it and learn to preserve it. Follow Totally Ready on Facebook each Monday and follow the plan to stock up. We post a food group or comfort food to store each week. Find a friend and work together. There is nothing quite like a partner to keep you motivated and accountable.

#4. Please share the link to the Totally Ready Facebook page on your Facebook page or send an email and share the link with all your friends and family. Let’s work together to get as many prepared as we possibly can.

"Surely the Lord loves, more than anything else, an unwavering determination to obey his counsel." (Howard W. Hunter, General Conference, October 1982)

For help getting started follow Carolyn’s facebook page: http://facebook.com/totallyready Don’t forget to like her page and remember to pass the link along to others. Contact Carolyn directly at: Carolyn@TotallyReady.com

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About Carolyn Nicolaysen

Carolyn Nicolaysen grew up in New Jersey and joined the Church while attending Central College in Pella, Iowa. With a degree in Home Economics, she later worked as a high school teacher, and served as an elected trustee of her local school board. Carolyn has taught personal and family preparedness to all who will listen. Having lived in areas that were threatened by winter storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, and now living in an earthquake prone area, she has developed a passion for preparedness. Carolyn started her own business, TotallyReady, when she saw the need for higher quality emergency information that could truly sustain families in a disaster.

Carolyn is FEMA trained and is an Amateur Radio first responder. She serves as Relief Society president of her California ward.

Carolyn is the author of three ebooks, Mother Hubbard, What She's Doing Now (food storage for the 21st century), Prep Not Panic (preparing for a pandemic of medical emergency) and That Won't Happen to Me (a discussion of disaster preparations). She has also authored a glove box book, Totally Ready for the Road and writes a monthly newsletter and the Totally Ready facebook page.

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