Climate change hits sushi supply chain amid California water war

Aug 13, 2021

If you’ve eaten sushi anywhere in the U.S., chances are the rice came from California’s Sacramento Valley. Fritz Durst, a sixth-generation farmer, has grown the grain and other crops there for more than four decades. But this year, amid a historic drought, Durst is planting only half as many acres of rice as usual.

Farmers like Durst would be having an even worse year if it weren’t for water siphoned from the Sacramento River to irrigate fields. Those diversions, though, have dire consequences for another part of the sushi supply chain: The salmon industry. Low water levels and scorching weather have raised river temperatures so much that almost all the juveniles of an endangered salmon species could be cooked to death this fall, state wildlife officials have said.

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