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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Arguing Wildfire and Rosemary

Uploaded: Nov 25, 2018

An east coast friend and I were talking, ok arguing, about California wildfires over the holiday. We delved into Make America Rake Again, and why the sheer mention of “forest raking,” as the solution to wildfire makes me bonkers.

“It’s different out here then back east.” Foliage on the forest floor is just a part of the problem. Seasonal drought pulls every drop of water out of our trees and brush, and it all becomes standing kindling. Don’t compare it to east coast fall, where the cold causes leaves to dry up and fall; those trees still hold moisture. Out here, the air completely dries, sucking up the moisture around it, and the whole plant can dry up. The trees and bushes in my neighborhood are so dull in color, which is not just because of “fall,” but because of no water. (Before this past weekend, our last measured precipitation was April 16, 2018.)

We went outside to survey the neighborhood. “Here's a good example of climate change and wildfire in California, brought to you by rosemary.”

Rosemary, like evergreen trees of the east, does not change color though out the season. It's an herb that thrives without water, which is why it grows everywhere in northern California. However, the severe lack of rain has caused our backyard crop to yellow dramatically, and become spiny.

Healthy rosemary on the left, and neighborhood rosemary on the right. - taken in Portola Valley, California.

Cooks care, because as freshness and volatile oils dry up, so does the taste.

But California residents have even more reasons to worry. If sparks strike, all the plants, not just dead foliage on the ground, are primed to go up in flames.

The Friday release of a Congressionally-mandated Fourth National Climate Assessment
warns of the devastating consequences from not addressing climate change as this interrelated multiplex of problems.

(Reuters) – Climate change will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century, damaging everything from human heath to infrastructure and painting a dire picture of the future of U.S. agriculture.

Written with the help of more than a dozen U.S. government agencies and departments, the report outlines the projected impacts of global warming in every corner of American society. “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.”

Looking for signs of climate change near you? Check out that rosemary bush.

Buy Fresh Buy Local: The Case for Being a Locavore

For more information about connections between climate change and agriculture, and the benefits of growing local, please join Green Town Los Altos this week for a spirited discussion on the importance of getting our food as close to home as possible. Why and where to buy, when and how to grow, and how to cook the bounty of your harvest. Food miles are a complicated and difficult concept, but there are lots of reasons to get your food from your region, from taste to health to supporting your local economy and environment.

The panel includes Peter Ruddock, local food policy expert, Rosalind Creasy, Los Altos resident and internationally-known expert and author on edible landscapes, and yours truly, chef Laura Stec, educator and author of Cool Cuisine – Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming.

Thursday, November 29
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Los Altos Library
13 South San Antonio Road

Free register click here:

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


 +   4 people like this
Posted by rising tides/shifting agriculture due to climate change, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 26, 2018 at 9:12 am

The effects that Climate Change will have on local agriculture will be minor compared to other parts of the world, where rising oceans will effect millions, shifting climate/agriculture will cause famine/local shortages, etc..

As the White House released, Congressional-mandated Fourth National Climate Assessment opens:

"Global climate is changing. Most of the warming of the past half-century is due to human activities"

We have brought this upon ourselves, our children and grandchildren.

Thanks for the link to the book and talk.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

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