Huy Fong Food, the California-based maker of the beloved Sriracha hot sauce, was forced to scale back production in July due to a scarcity of chili peppers — red jalapeños, in particular — due to persisting droughts in northern Mexico, the Guardian reported.
“Normally the pepper is grown by irrigation,” Paul Gepts, a crop researcher at the University of California, Davis, told the outlet. “But the supply of water has been decreasing and if you don’t have a certain minimum amount of water to irrigate your crops, unless there is rain, there won’t be a crop.”
In addition to the droughts, there is a depleted water supply in the Colorado River, which supplies water to much of the Western United States and has been drastically overused for years, leading to the river and surrounding groundwaters drying up. In response, Arizona has stopped approving building permits for new single-family homes that rely on the wells in Maricopa County.
Pollution caused by burning dirty energy sources like gas, coal, and oil to power our infrastructure has caused our planet to overheat, leading to more intense extreme weather events that wreak havoc on our communities.
Sometimes, the effects of our changing climate appear in unexpected places, as in the case of the Sriracha shortage, which has gotten dire enough that bottles of the cult-favorite hot sauce are now appearing on the secondary market. The Guardian found bottles of Sriracha listed on Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist for as much as $120, turning the product from a kitchen staple to a collector’s item.
The droughts in northern Mexico are consistent with the environmental science axiom “dry gets drier, [as the] wet gets wetter,” which means that as our climate changes, areas will experience even more extreme versions of the climates they already have.
In this case, we see a dry climate experiencing extreme drought, resulting in a shortage of a beloved food product.
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