Salads and Chocolate: The El Niño Effect

Jan 29, 2016
El Niños (warm episodes)


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With the rising price of salads, it’s harder to eat healthy. Here’s some good news—El Niño is coming.

The huge weather event usually brings rain to California, enough to break the drought and help vegetable farming. Here’s the awkward news—the same event usually creates droughts in areas that grow chocolate! You may have to eat healthy.

Thanks to El Niño, your salads should be more affordable but that yummy piece of chocolate may cost more. Source: Wikipedia

With cooler temperatures in the South and drought conditions in California, food prices soared between the beginning of the year and mid-April. Overall market prices grew 19%, but lettuce and some other vegetables grew 34%.Yikes! Spring is here and some prices are stabilizing but to improve conditions, California needs rain.

El Niño conditions may arrive as early as this summer!

With the arrival of El Niño, that rain should come. Spring warmth and southern rains should be good for summer vegetables and El Niños deliver western rainfall for winter and spring vegetables. The salad bowl will be cheaper to fill.

However, at the same time an El Niño brings dry weather to other parts of the world, particularly in the tropics. Indonesia, Central America and parts of Brazil commonly are drier and sometimes experience drought. This hits coffee production and cocoa plantations. Financial investors are already betting the price of coffee and chocolate may go up.

El Niños (called warm episodes here) affect weather around the world.

Overall, El Niños make it cheaper to eat healthy. But before the El Niño starts, you might want to slurp that second cup of coffee and buy yourself a hoard of chocolate.

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to "Weather Whispers" by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these blog posts. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

Reader Comments

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Ironic how we have an El Nino

Ironic how we have an El Nino developing (and now there is a 70% chance for this fall and winter) but the weather patterns and atmospheric conditions across North America are saying "What El Nino?" because the weather in North America doesn't match what El Nino typically brings. The drought continues to worsen in California as it continues to sizzle and unfortunately there doesn't look to be any relief anytime soon. On the other side of the continent though, there is a lack of heat. It's interesting to note areas that are used to long lasting periods of heat just haven't had any so far this season. My relatives in Texas have also noticed there isn't any real heat in eastern Texas and the rest of the south. It is all being suppressed to the southwest but chances are you won't find a lot of Texans complaining about that! I do think this will change as we head into July and August however. Many weather experts believe that a pattern shift will occur later on during the summer for folks in the east.

Also, there are enhanced odds that the Atlantic hurricane season will be below average due to El Nino.. but all it takes is ONE so do not let your guard down!


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