Market Digest: Barbara Whyman & Captain Ben Hyman Talk Climate Change

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The Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market bustles weekly with smiling farmers, fishermen and artisans selling fresh produce, seafood, meat and other items, but regulars might notice that some of the booths have begun to thin out. While this is partly seasonal, many of our local vendors are feeling the impact of climate change on their yields. It’s a hot topic on everybody’s minds these days with world leaders attending this week’s Paris summit. But for those of us who shop at farmers markets, we’re given a firsthand view of how climate change has already begun to affect our local food supply.

Barbara Whyman of Tutti Frutti Farms tells us that their farm will be taking time off from the farmers market from early December through April. Due to warmer temperatures and California’s ongoing drought, the bugs that are usually killed off by the rainy, colder months have instead been thriving. Never before seen insects like South African Bagrada have even made their way up north to Tutti Frutti in Santa Ynez. For now, they’ll rebuild the soil and hope that El Niño will provide some relief for their farm.

Ling Cod from Wild Local Seafood
An order of Ling Cod from Wild Local Seafood for Chef Bruce Kalman of Union restaurant in Pasadena. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

But the effects of climate change are far-reaching, and affect every aspect of the planet’s delicate ecosystem. According to Captain Ben Hyman of the sustainable Wild Local Seafood, this year marks the highest sea surface temperatures in his nineteen years of commercial fishing. Just like crops, fish have their own cyclical migratory seasons and with rising water temperatures, many of the local breeds have been shifting their habitats, swimming up along the coastline toward cooler waters.

Farmers and fisherman are doing what they can to adapt to our changing climate, but as consumers, we also play a vital role in this ecosystem. You can support them by finding out what’s currently in season and purchasing their local, sustainable products. Just a little adjustment to your shopping habits can make a world of difference.