Almonds are all the rage in food these days. Seriously. They're heavily imported by many countries, and the large majority of production of almonds (and pistachios, for that matter) happens in California. Almonds also take a lot of water to produce (about a gallon per almond, if you do the math) and California has been going through worse and worse droughts. What's that result in?
Somehow, still a thriving almond industry, but also one that might be killing itself with its overuse of groundwater in the area. This piece written by a student of the University of California does an awesome job at taking us through the almond orchards, seeing the production as it happens, and understanding what is changing and how those changes indicate things about industry, water needs and environmental problems. All in all, its a seriously intriguing read not only for the writing, but for a problem I knew (next to) nothing about.
=Crazy amounts of awesome research
--Check out this section, for starters: "Of this total—what the state refers to as "developed" water—agriculture uses about 80 percent, and almond groves suck up nearly 9 percent of that. That's more than enough water, notes Carolee Krieger of the California Water Impact Network, to supply the yearly household needs of greater Los Angeles, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area combined—around two-thirds of California's population."
- Just look at those sentences! There is a lot of research packed in there, and it feels factual, but it's still interesting. Rather than listing fact by fact, the author has figured out how to incorporate them into one sentence to present them in a way that shares the facts while also keeping it enjoyable.
= Turning some of those awesome facts into fun charts.
- Check out the two charts I attached. Rather than Simple including these cool statistics that the author figured out about what the water-for-almond amounts are equal to in comparison to other things like watering a lawn in the writing, he put them in a chart that was integrated alongside the main piece. Great supplementary material (along with the photographs) that made a strong piece of writing a bit more enhanced, and a great online read. Bloggers, remember this!
= Direct links to relevant source material
- One of the best things about posting and reading works of creative non-fiction online is that you can really supplement a reader with so much information using hyperlinks.
- Sure, you can read this piece straight down the page and get everything you might want to know about almonds in California these days. But, if you're also researching the topic, or greedy for more knowledge, you can click one of the many hyperlinks throughout the piece. They're not obtrusive, and they provide another layer of depth to the piece that would be lacking if it was in a book or magazine. Kudos to the author.
Overall, this is a great piece of creative nonfiction that does a good job of including tons of research without feeling too heavy. It's interesting, and not clunky to read because the author used the online format to take some of that heaviness out (by using hyperlinks and charts and the likes). When writing online, these are things we really have to try to learn from!
What else did you love about the piece?