The makers of the famous hot sauce, Tabasco, might be looking for a new home. The company makes its product on a small patch of land in Louisiana known as Avery Island and has done so since 1868. But, with climate change raising water levels and threatening to overtake Avery Island, Tabasco will either need to relocate or close its doors for good.
According to Travel and Leisure, the founder of Tabasco, Edmund McIlhenny, grew his first batch of tabasco peppers on Avery Island, which is located in the Louisiana marsh, in 1868. The land rests slightly above sea level and has remained unchanged for the past 150 years.
But with water levels rising, workers in the Tabasco plant are worried that the island will disappear entirely into the marsh, taking their company and livelihood with it. For those who think Tabasco should just move their facilities elsewhere, McIlhenny descendant and current owner, Tony Simmons, says moving is not an option – at least not yet.
“It does worry us, and we are working to minimize the land loss. We want to protect the marsh because the marsh protects us,” Simmons explained. “We don’t think it will come to that, but we are working to do everything we can to make sure it won’t happen to us. I mean, we could make Tabasco somewhere else. But this is more than a business: this is our home.”
Avery Island is around 160 feet above sea level but is losing ground at an astonishing rate. Experts claim that the marshes surrounding the island lose about 30 feet every year. Climate change is part of the problem, but it isn’t the only culprit.
Oil and gas companies have been digging and drilling around Avery Island for years and their activities adversely affect the landscape. The island is also sinking at a rate of about one-third of an inch annually. Even more troublesome, the sea could claim the island if the water rises by a mere 2 feet over the next few years.
The Tabasco company is planning ahead to avoid a major catastrophe. This includes moving the majority of its workers off Avery Island. They are also constructing seawalls that will help delay the inevitable. Despite their best efforts, scientists believe that Avery Island will one day be alone in the sea and eventually become a shell of itself. This doesn’t bode well for fans of Tabasco sauce, especially if things get worse in the next few years.
In the meantime, people can always start stocking up on Tabasco sauce just in case things turn south. In the meantime, perhaps the company will find another home to make the iconic hot sauce and keep pumping it out long after Avery Island sinks into the sea.
The Tabasco company recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. Although over a century has gone by since McIlhenny brewed the first batch of Tabasco Sauce, the recipe has gone unchanged.