California Drought Expected to Force Up Produce Prices - 8 News NOW

California Drought Expected to Force Up Produce Prices

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LAS VEGAS -- The country could soon be paying more for fruits and vegetables because of the extreme drought going on in California.

Fresh strawberries, oranges, tomatoes and leafy green vegetables are all expected to rise in price.

According to local farmer Don Garrison, who has been distributing produce in Las Vegas for more than 10 years, people can expect about a 20 percent increase in prices especially in produce that requires a lot of water to grow.

"Like your orange or seedless watermelon, all those take in a lot of water and that's what you're not going to see a lot of, and also corn production," Garrison said, "You're looking at twice as many acres not being planted this year as three years ago when we had a drought. So, you're looking at acres not planted in California and that reverts back to the cost when you go to grocery store."

The price increase won't just impact local grocery stores or farmers markets, restaurants may also have hike prices or change menu items.

"With Asian food, it is mostly produce. We do a lot of mix vegetables and curries and stir fries," Shauna Dong with Le Thai Restaurant said.

Le Thai in downtown Las Vegas is already informing its customers about a price hike, but it won't be anything drastic right away. It is increasing its lunch special by $1 in March.

Cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions are tossed up into mouth-watering dishes at Le Thai and many customers say a slight price hike is worth every bite.

"I can understand if that happens and I'm willing to adjust to that," customer Ryan Rubin said.

"I think a dollar we can all kind of spend a little bit more," Dong said.

This is the third year of consecutive drought in California and farmers say the price hike is likely to last all summer.

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