The Effects of Global Warming: A Nutella Shortage and Other Breakfast Woes

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There may be a Nutella shortage soon. Stay calm, everyone. And take some steps to reduce the effects of global warming, or there could be a Nutella extinction. For real. And that bread you love to slather it on too... Oh, and that cup of coffee you drink it with. No. Joke.

It turns out that the effects of global warming spell disaster for a whole bunch of our favorite breakfast foods, and the two biggest ingredients that make Nutella so yummy—hazelnuts and chocolate—are being threatened by the funky weather shifts happening thanks to that 'irreversible' damage we've caused to the atmosphere.

“The price of hazelnuts, a main ingredient in the delicious chocolate spread, is up 60 percent after unseasonable ice storms devastated hazel tree farms in Turkey's Black Sea coastal region this year,” reports Mother Jones. Cacao farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast are also being challenged by climate change as well found a 2011 study, “the cocoa-growing topography will be very different by 2050,” noted Scientific American. Add to that another ingredient in Nutella: the ever-controversial palm oil, which is sourced throughout Indonesia--regions now in jeopardy because of such heavy deforestation to grow palm for oil. It’s causing huge price increases for the palm oil (as well as demands for more sustainably sourced palm oil or substitute ingredients). Don't even get me started on the poor orangutans. (And please don't eat them for breakfast!)

According to Mother Jones, Nutella prices haven’t risen yet, but it’s unknown how much longer the company can sustain production without increasing prices.

But other breakfast foods are in trouble too. Namely, coffee: “There's an epic drought in Brazil, the world's largest coffee exporter,” explains Mother Jones. “As a result, one commodities trading firm says caffeine addicts will consume 5 million more bags of beans than coffee growers can produce in the 2014-2015 season, and the price of coffee futures has already doubled to $2 a pound.” Granted, we’ve grown accustomed to paying a lot of money for a cup of coffee these days. But if Starbucks is charging $5 for a latte in today’s market, just how much do you think its prices will be when coffee prices go even higher?

Other breakfast foods are in trouble too as a result of the effects of climate change: cereal grains, which go into breakfast cereals, breads and your bacon obsession (conventionally raised pigs eat a lot of grains).

Some of our favorite breakfast foods are being pinpointed as causes of global warming: mainly the animal ingredients and those derived from genetically modified organisms like soybean, canola and corn oils found in everything from yogurts and margarines to frozen breakfast burritos.

While breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, it seems there are now even greater implications to that rule. What you eat for breakfast matters for your health and the health of the planet. So be sure to choose organic and Fair Trade ingredients and avoid those processed cereal products that may contain palm oil. Want bread? Make your own. And use all that juicy fuel you get from a home-cooked healthy breakfast to energize your efforts to help reduce the effects of global warming.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: amandacabral

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