LOS ANGELES — Much of the produce and food we eat in Los Angeles is grown in the central valley, but due to the drought, those farms are either in extreme hardship, or have stopped growing altogether. When that happens, the ripple effect is felt all the way to our dinner plates at some of the most popular restaurants in town.
Sam Rogers is the market buyer for the Gjelina Group, and as part of her job, she goes to every local farmers market, every week. Rogers says that she’s been seeing some major — and concerning — changes at the farmers markets, changes that don’t bode well for the future of our food supply, nor our local restaurant menus.
“This place used to be jam-packed with farmers, and that’s just not the case anymore,” Rogers said, while walking along the Saturday Santa Monica farmers market. “You’re seeing huge gaps, and there’s no more walnuts, there’s no more pecans, there’s no more staples. Having to take major things off of the menu is heartbreaking, and then having customers asking where things are…”
As a customer of restaurants like Gjelina, one wouldn’t necessarily notice these changes on the menu, because restaurants are very good at adapting when this happens. They swap one ingredient for another, source an ingredient from different farms or bulk up one dish to cover the absence of something else.
But Rogers says there is one silver lining in all of this change.
“When you are able to really affect a menu, you can also teach through that,” Rogers said. “So, we’re able to tell our patrons we don’t have these items because of the drought.”
Rogers says the drought, and its effect on our food supply and restaurants, is urgent.
“This isn’t a future conversation, this is a right now conversation,” Rogers said. “And if we don’t make huge changes and really stop putting ourselves first and think of the land first, then we’re going to lose our food.”