Louisiana is disappearing—quite literally. Coastlines are eroding, land is sinking, and the state’s boot-shape is losing its toes. Unless you’re a native, you might not be aware that one of our 50 United States is quickly crumbling into the gulf.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune has a story that might bring the issue home to many Americans with a bottle of hot sauce in their pantry. Tabasco, the ubiquitous pepper sauce that’s called Avery Island, Louisiana home for 150 years, may have to consider relocating because the marsh around the plant is disappearing fast. The 2,200-acre Avery Island is 163 feet above sea level, one of the highest points on the Louisiana bayou, making it a relatively safe spot when storms strike and flood the region. But the Times-Picayune reports that a confluence of factors—from the marsh around the island losing 30 feet each year, to stronger and more frequent storms—is causing the McIlhenny family, which owns Tabasco, to think about the possibility of moving. Before that moment arrives, the company has instituted a number of safeguards and initiatives:
The company is mounting an expensive and ambitious effort to protect its ancestral homeland and corporate headquarters. It’s poured millions of dollars into a large levee, pump system and backup generators. In the marshes, the company is taking a multifaceted, almost obsessive approach to restoration, planting grasses to reclaim land, filling in canals and re-engineering the flow of water in and out of the bayous surrounding the island.
This likely will not mean a shortage of Tabasco hot sauce anytime soon, but the plant where it’s produced, located three hours west of New Orleans, has become an attraction—about 100,000 tourists visit there each year.
Read the rest of the Times-Picayune’s in-depth report here.