As part of my Master in Sustainable Food System coursework, I conducted an in-depth analysis of the points of fragility—and strengths—in the California food system. What an interesting lesson in learning more about my bioregion of California, which has such a diverse landscape when it comes to the food system, from being a leader in health and wellness, local foods, and organics to hosting some of the largest industrial farms in the country. Here are just a few statistics that share some of those extremes.
Table 1. California Farm Facts
These statistics help describe the agricultural system in the state of California.
- Twenty-seven percent of California farms generate commodity sales over $100,000 greater than the national average of 20%.
- The average farm size is 329 acres (national average is 441).
- An estimated 25.5 million acres are devoted to farming and ranching.
- The average value of farm real estate is $7,900 per acre.
- The top 20 commodities (in descending order) are: milk/cream, almonds, grapes, cattle/calves, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, flower/foliage, walnuts, hay, broilers, broccoli, rice oranges,pistachios, carrots, lemons, eggs, peppers, and raspberries.
- Twenty-six percent of agricultural production is exported.
- California represents 19% of all organic farms and 36% of all organic sales.
- Two-thirds of organic sales in California are from produce, one-fourth are from livestock products, and the remainder are from field crops.
- California produces 90% or more of the organic crops in the US for lettuce, grapes, strawberries, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, avocados, almonds, plums, walnuts, dates, lemons, figs, and artichokes.
Sources: CDFA, 2016; Klonsky, 2010
Read my full report on the resiliency of California’s food system here.
Image: My local farmers market in Pasadena, CA, Sharon Palmer, RDN