Clearly, food is a MAJOR part of our lives, both as sustenance and as experience, but in a few decades, rising sea levels and fluctuating temperatures could completely transform where and how we harvest our food – from our morning coffee to the rice in our plate at dinner.
These changes also mean that the foods associated with different areas across the globe, such as Columbia’s coffee, will have to migrate and learn how to adapt. Luckily, researchers are already working on this by breeding climate-resistant crops and ensuring farmers financially. In the meantime, here are 11 foods that are largely being affected by climate change…
If there’s anything we all love about life, it’s carbs – but carbs come from wheat, which is being threatened by drought and rising carbon dioxide levels. Researchers emphasized that even if we stop global temperatures from rising 2°C, the wheat-growing areas affected will double in the next 20-50 years, and a study has suggested the rising CO2 levels will strip significant nutrients from wheat and similar plants, like barley and potatoes.
80% of the world’s almonds come from California and requires a lot of water to grow, but with California facing water shortages, this is going to become a problem. Researchers are studying that if the almond industry shifts to Oregon and Washington, the north might be warm enough for the crop by 2050.
Humans have been domesticating chickpeas for like 10,000 years now – even creating heavenly concoctions like hummus in the process – but over the years, chickpeas have been robbed of their genetic diversity, making it harder for the plant to adapt. It’s specifically vulnerable to drought, so researchers have collected seeds and DNA from chickpea’s wild counterparts in Turkey and Kurdistan, hoping to breed a plant more resistant to drought, heat, and pests.
We all love our wine ‘o’clock moments, but wine grapes require hyper-specific climates to produce wines with balanced sugar, acid, and tannins. Growers are already entering regions once too cold and seeking higher altitudes, but drought, floods, hail, fires, rains, and freezes all threaten the plant.
In 2020 alone, smoke from the wildfire season ruined 13% of the state’s wine-grape crop and a recent study predicted that if global temperatures rise by 2°C, suitable regions could shrink by 56% by the end of the century.
Sardines might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but whilst small open-water fish like sardines and anchovies are among the most ‘climate friendly’ fish to catch, requiring the least amount of boat fuel, rising ocean temperatures are deadly to their larvae. Plus, the species depends on plankton, which is becoming scarcer due to variable wind patterns.
There has been an 85% collapse of sardine fisheries in the Southern Caribbean over a decade, which was attributed mostly to climate change and overfishing. Research suggests sardine populations will travel north to cooler waters over the next 60 years, reducing stock by 20-50%.
A vital warning to all caffeine addicts who pass off their need for coffee as love – higher temperatures, intense rain, and persistent humidity have made coffee plantations hospitable hosts for the ‘coffee leaf rust’ fungus.
Right, sorry…they’re basically spores that feed off the plant, making it impossible for plants to photosynthesise or produce prized coffee berries. One study even estimates that due to global warming, we could lose 50% of the land suitable to grow coffee by 2050.
Indigenous people in the US have used cranberries in their foods and medicines for centuries on end. Massachusetts produces 25% of the global industry, but the plants grow in ancient bogs that fall prey to rainfall and drought. Not to mention that in heat waves, cranberries can suffer from ‘scald’, where the fruit cooks on the vine because it can’t cool itself.
Just like cherries, peaches in their dormant winter months need a certain number of ‘chilling hours’ for the fruit to reliably form. A study found that between 1950 and 2000, annual chilling hours decreased by 30% but in 2020, the USDA released 3 new peach varieties bred to survive shorter, warmer winters.
It’s no secret that rice is a staple for over half the world’s population, but the crop thrives in wetlands, making it susceptible to droughts or unpredictable rainfall. Yet, the biggest enemy may be rising sea levels. In Bangladesh, coastal flooding is salting the earth, making it impossible to cultivate rice fields.
One study found that 200,000 farmers will likely be forced out in the next 120 years. In fact, many farmers have begun farming shrimp where they once grew rice, but 80% of the world’s rice comes from small-scale farmers without the resources to make that change. Meanwhile, researchers are isolating breeds that are drought-and-flood-tolerant.
Baby shellfish like scallops and oysters begin building their shells when they’re the size of a speck of dust and a lentil, filtering calcium and carbonate from waters. But as the oceans’ acidity levels increase, the number of carbonate ions is declining, so the baby shellfish are left unable to build shells – dying or growing at a much slower pace. With scallops, a report predicted that acidification could reduce the population by 50% in a few decades.
Corn is vital for sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, plus it’s the largest growth in the US, but it’s sensitive to rising temperatures and rainfall. With the constant threat that crops could be wiped out with one drought, it could become financially impossible for small farmers to sustain their farms. A global temperature rise of just 1°C would slow the growth rate by 7%.