“Favorite Foods” at Risk Due to Climate Change
Huffington Post Green published an article that gives much food for thought: could climate change be endangering our favorite foods?
According to HPG, basic ingredients for several “favorite” foods such as chocolate, pasta, coffee, etc. are in danger of shortage in coming years because of climate change. As temperatures rise and weather patterns change, crops in developing countries are increasingly falling victim. Here are HPG’s Top Endangered Foods:
Chocolate – Cocoa crops in Ghana and the Ivory Coast are in danger because of rising temperatures, according to a study from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. Today there are various luxury brands but even less expensive chocolate variants could become luxuries themselves in the future due to price increases driven by a cocoa shortage. For example, Fortune 500 company Hershey’s is ensuring its supply chain by implementing sustainable practices in Western African nations. But will it be enough?
Coffee – Rumors are abound that Starbucks is considering integrating juice bars in its shops in anticipation of Arabica coffee bean shortage in coming years. Shifts in rainfall and harvest patterns as well as the decrease of arable land are threatening coffee regions worldwide. With so many people addicted to caffeine, how high a price will people pay if coffee prices go up?
Beer – Climate change threatens both hop crops and malting-barley production, according to Nature.com. Researchers are working on developing varieties that could cope with new climate trends to avoid a crash in these industries.
Peanut Butter – HPG reported in 2011 a drastic fall in peanut crop due to a scorching summer season. Researchers reported that it was the worst peanut season in 30 years due to “high heat, strong winds and bone-dry conditions”. More of such drastic seasons could significantly hamper peanut products output in coming years.
Italian Pasta – Italy may not be able to grow durum wheat, the main ingredient in pasta, domestically in the near future. According to climate change projections, the crop may entirely disappear later this century. This is from the report of the British Meteorological Office in 2009.
Maple Syrup – Shorter seasons of “cold recharge” crucial to the trees’ production of sap are putting maple syrup production at risk. Warm weather also allow pests such as the invasive longhorn beetle to thrive and destroy maple trees.
Honey – Bee populations are reportedly dropping due to the effects of climate change on precipitation and temperature. Bees are not only important to the production of honey, but are also crucial agents of pollination. Honeybees are also currently suffering from colony collapse disorder which is further contributing to beekeeper’s ability to commercially pollinate crops.
Wine – Grape and wine production in France are particularly at risk because of its highly conducive climate for the industry. Dry seasons and rising temperatures affect crops and influence the taste and quality of the final product.
Climate change remains one of the major threats to food security on a global scale. A study published earlier this year detailed how even a regional nuclear war can affect global temperatures and precipitation which in turn could affect grain-growing countries. A rise in prices for these basic commodities would then put millions who are already chronically malnourished at further risk of starvation, debility, and even death. If climate change could raise food security crises at this scale, it is easy to see that people’s comfort foods could be affected.
That is not to say people who are more privileged than those at risk of starvation are more occupied with trivialities of comfort foods. But perhaps this is one of the ways this global environmental challenge is brought down to the level of daily experience. If projected climate change effects become realized, many will reach for their favorite foods – part of their culture and daily lives, – find that it’s not there, and finally (hopefully) ask, “What happened?”
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