Drought dries up grocery options at stores, restaurants - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Drought dries up grocery options at stores, restaurants

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A drought in southern Wisconsin has dried up farmers' fields and the effects are showing up on our tables.

It's been nearly three weeks with no significant rainfall. We've seen crops like cherries and corn decimated.

Madison is home to many stores and restaurants that strive to bring local food to your tables, but it's hard to do when some area farmers crops are destroyed. Local food experts say now's the time to support farmers more than ever.

Willy Street Co-op works with about 50 area farms to bring local foods to Madison shoppers.

"Because we require such a volume that to get into a contractual relationship with someone we have to know they're going to bring us enough to keep us supplied," says director of co-op services Lynn Olson.

Olson says she may have to lean on a national distributor to fill the shelves with products that would normally be grown in Wisconsin.

Executive Chef Tory Miller runs the kitchen at Graze with the mindset that if it's not from Wisconsin-- it's imported, and they don't import. Located on the Capitol Square, Tory hits the farmer's market twice a week, and welcomes farmers to his back door with local foods.

Many farmers have been coming up short this season. Miller says with some losing a lot of crops, he often has to change his menu -- sometimes daily -- to make do with what the farmers can offer.

"They're like this is all I got and they feel bad that's all they can sell me, and I feel bad because I know that it's just less money for them," says Miller.

As for consumer costs, Willy Street Co-op sets their pricing contracts in winter, so buyers don't expect to see any price hikes on the shelves.

At Graze, the restaurant buys daily, so they're paying more now, which means they've had to bump up the tab. For example, the price of maple syrup has gone up to $55-65 a gallon, so their brunch costs are higher.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Southern Wisconsin has gone weeks with no rain, creating a difficult situation for many area farmers, who are losing more crops every day. Those losses are now getting to businesses who share in farmers' crops.

Grocery stores that provide local foods-- like Willy Street Co-op-- work closely with about 50 area farmers who provide produce for the stores. With a diminished harvest, the co-op will have to lean on its national distributor to provide foods that would normally be stocked from right here in Wisconsin.

Madison restaurants like Graze-- which serves dishes created almost entirely from local ingredients-- are struggling to fill their plates too. The restaurant's chef says he changes the menu sometimes daily to accommodate the ingredients he's able to get from area farmers.

Tonight on 27 News at 10, we'll hear more from these local food providers, and talk about how the drought could be affecting prices.

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