If you’re wondering what we’ll be eating when global warming causes so many of the foods we love to eat vanish, the answer, according to a group of forward-thinking food scientists, is beans. Or to be more specific, a brand of “super beans” that can endure searing temperatures and minimal water.
Many of the crops we take for granted may, in fact, not be able to survive when temperatures spike as a result of global warming -- nuts, fruits, cold water fish, maple syrup, beer, peanut butter, livestock, and grains.The fear is that as the temperatures increase, foods will start to be grown further north before becoming too expensive to be cultivated. And then they will eventually disappear completely. That’s why scientists have been working for nearly half a century to come up with a food that will keep a global population from starvation on a sweltering planet.
While the answer isn’t exactly a modern day foodie’s dream, beans and rice may become the mainstay for generations to come.
Researchers at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have been working hard to stave off the malnutrition that could result. They’ve come up with 30 resilient beans.
The beans we may all be eating soon are a cross between common beans like pinto, white, black, and kidney beans, and the tepary, which is a tough bean that's been cultivated since pre-Columbian times in northern Mexico and the American southwest. They're small and red, but as of yet, no one seems to have tasted them. Given that Beebe [Steve Beebe, head of CIAT's bean breeding program] has been working with beans for the bulk of his career, one might assume he's tasted the so-called heat-beater beans. But no, he has not. He hears they taste sweet.
Tasting the beans isn’t the first priority; though it should be noted that these scientists, located in Columbia and throughout Africa, snack on beans morning, noon, and night.
"We get served beans every day in the cafeteria," Dr. Idupulapati Rao, a plant nutritionist and physiologist also working on the bean breeding program, said to Eater. "So we eat whatever is commercially available in the market." Though the super beans may be on the menu in the near future.
Researchers also contend that over the long haul, our bodies will be able to adapt so that our unvaried diet doesn’t result in nutrient deficiencies, a feat that has already been studied in mice. What’s more, future generations might not know what they were missing out on, and therefore lose the ability to taste certain foods.
While that may make you feel a bit more nostalgic about your craft beers and avocado toast, keep in mind we'll have larger worries--like dehydration, super storms, and rising tides--than where to get the best chocolate mousse.
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Image of bean crop from Shuttershock