It speaks volumes about our many blessings here in America that most of us don’t worry about our food and water supplies. But, we can’t afford to take these items for granted.
According to a 2012 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll addressing the most important issues facing Texans, none of the respondents listed food availability as a pressing concern. Furthermore, on the heels of the worst one-year drought in Texas history – a drought that resulted in water shortages, mandatory water restrictions and emergency water conditions − only 16 percent of respondents said water is as top priority.
Where our food comes from should be on everyone’s mind. As the bar chart below illustrates, an increasingly large amount of our nation’s fruit and vegetable supply is being imported. From 1980 to 2010, the percentage of foreign fruits and vegetables has grown from 13.9 to 33.5 percent.
What does this mean for consumers? It means more variety on the store shelves, which can be a good thing. It also means we need to take notice of how policies could be hindering domestic food production. Rising energy and input costs and the scarcity of water and a skilled workforce all create barriers for our farmers and ranchers.
We need an energy policy that encourages low-cost options; we need water supplies to meet the needs of all Texans; and we need a workforce that is skilled and reliable. We don’t like being dependent on foreign oil; we cannot become dependent on foreign food. It’s time to rethink our priorities.