Just how far-reaching is global warming’s impact? Well, the key is in that little word ‘global’. And it’s going to seriously change our food system over the next few decades.
Some of the world’s farmers are feeling the impact of global warming already, and climate scientists predict not only will we be facing more severe food shortages, but the flavor and texture of foods could be compromised as well.
Australian climate scientists recently released a report entitled “Appetite for Change,” which includes a list of 55 foods researchers say will be victims of the planet’s changing climate. Many of these crops are also grown outside of Australia, including California, where a drought is currently forcing the state to make major changes to water use. Farmers in California have just agreed to limit their water use, reallocate land for other purposes and stop growing certain crops.
If the effects of global warming have yet seemed to impact your daily life, this research may motivate you to start being a bit more concerned about the state of the environment.
“It’s definitely a wakeup call when you hear that the toast and raspberry jam you have for breakfast, for example, might not be as readily available in 50 years’ time,” Richard Eckard, one of the lead authors of the study, said in a press release. “Or that there may be changes to the cost and taste of food items we love and take for granted, like avocado and Vegemite, spaghetti bolognaise, and even beer, wine, and chocolate. It makes you appreciate that global warming is not a distant phenomenon but a very real occurrence that is already affecting the things we enjoy in our everyday lives, including the most common of foods we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said.
According to the report, rising temperatures will also have a huge impact on livestock production, which could decrease milk products by about 40 percent. Beef and chicken will also be compromised, which could force livestock producers to switch to more heat-tolerant animals that produce less meat and taste drier and leaner.
But vegetables might not be much of an alternative, with decreased rainfall making crops like wheat and rice lower in certain nutrients like zinc and iron. Carrots could become bitter and softer and we might have less kale, cauliflower and cabbage, along with fewer fruits and nuts that depend on long cold periods in order to flower in the spring. Blights, which once wiped out potatoes, chestnuts and banana crops, could once again become commonplace and more severe.
The changes to our food system could upend places like Australia and California, which currently produce most of their own food, forcing them to depend on imports from other parts of the world, which will be facing their own set of challenges in light of global warming.
In the meantime, scientists urge us all to do our part for the planet: eat less meat and dairy, drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, consume less and support politicians and legislation that protects the environment.
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Carrots image via Shutterstock