Sushi Lovers May Be Facing Rising Prices As A Result Of The California Drought

For those who don’t live in California, it might seem like the drought is only a problem in that state — ‘Their lawns may be brown but mine’s not, so who cares?” an uncool citizen of the world might say. But you start jacking up the prices at sushi restaurants around the country and suddenly, it looks like it could be everyone’s problem.

As it turns out, the rice that is used in sushi rolls like the aptly named California Roll is grown in the state, and the drought is wreaking havoc with crops right about now, reports Politico.

The specialty rice used in sushi is grown mostly in California, but because of the drought, about 25% less of it is expected to be produced this year. That means sticker shock could hit the rest of the country, as the rice grown in California is where we get most of the high-quality, short- and medium-grain rice used in sushi.

The reason for the shortage? Farmers could only plant 420,000 acres, only about a quarter of what they usually plant, due to restrictions on using water, says the California Rice Commission.

“The biggest challenge is simply not enough rain and snowfall for multiple years, coupled with all of the demand from the most urban and top [farming] state in the U.S.,” California Rice Commission spokesman Jim Morris said. “Being in charge of the water allocations is a tough job right now: precious little water and many areas of need in our state.”

While lawmakers are scrambling to craft bills that could help farmers of all kinds in the state, any legislation will be too late to help the 2014 rice market. With harvest over and done with in October, there could be a drop in production of more than a billion pounds from previous years.

That could translate to higher prices at sushi restaurants, where many dishes are served on rice or are wrapped into rolls with rice — it’ll be up to those restaurants to decide whether or not to pass the added cost on to consumers.

California drought threatens sushi, too [Politico]