Salads and Chocolate: The El Niño Effect

January 29, 2016
El Niños (warm episodes)
NOAA

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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 articles. 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.

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