Global rising temperatures are making food more diﬃcult to grow. Some foods disappearing due to climate change include coﬀee, chocolate, wine, and almonds. Even staples like rice, corn, chickpeas, beans, and wheat are being impacted.
Coﬀee will need to be grown further north as higher temperatures in the tropics have led to more intense rainy seasons and persistent humidity. Unfortunately, this has provided the perfect opportunity for the “coﬀee leaf rust” fungus to take over coﬀee plantations. The rust-coloured spores that spread between the trees make it impossible for the plants to photosynthesise, which means that they cannot produce the coﬀee berries needed for our drink.
Almonds have skyrocketed in popularity due to a growing demand for almond milk. However, 80% of the world’s almonds come from California, which, at present, is undergoing a 22-year-long drought. Thus, the demand for almonds is more than what the region can sustainably provide.
Chocolate, corn, chickpeas, and wheat all suﬀer from falling water supplies and the resulting droughts that occur as the earth warms. Rice paddies are also susceptible to droughts and unpredictable rainfall. However, their most significant issue is saltwater flooding due to rising sea levels.
Climate change is also aﬀecting the nutrition of our foods. As carbon in the air increases, the proteins, minerals, and critical nutrients that plants take up will decrease, aﬀecting the overall nutritional value of the plant. Not only does this aﬀect us, it even aﬀects the animals we consume. For example, the feed that cows eat will have a reduced nutritional value (due to the process above), and the cows themselves will be less nutrient-rich. In addition, as crops, rice, and other staples become more challenging to grow, they will become more scarce, and prices will rise as a result.
Poverty-stricken areas, in which people may already not be getting enough nutrition, will be most aﬀected.
It becomes clear that the way we are farming needs to change. The most widely used agricultural practice is the planting of monocultures. This method grows only one type of crop on large swaths of land. To maintain these monocultures, you need large quantities of water and pesticides. Soil erosion, deforestation, and the loss of biodiversity (including insects and birds) are some ways the earth suﬀers as a result. Thus, monocultures destroy the landscape in and around the farm, putting more carbon into the air and undermining the basis of food production.
Shockingly, one-third of greenhouse gas comes from farming practices. As the planet warms, the conditions for growing our favourite foods become less favourable.
How You Can Help
However, not all hope is lost. We can look out for some sustainable farming practices when buying food.
- Buy local as it cuts down on the distance your food will travel to reach you. The more kilometres saved, the less the carbon footprint of the food will be. Support local farmers at markets and urban farms.
- Food found at markets and urban farms will also be seasonal and, in all likelihood, fair trade. You could even attempt to grow your own patch of fruits and veggies.
- Where possible, purchase organic foods grown with fewer chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Farmers cultivate healthy soil, which will then store more carbon instead of being released into the air.
Lastly, we do have a say in how our food is produced! Petition to make governments tax unsustainable farming practices. The money generated from these taxes could be used to subsidise sustainable farming practices so that they become the new normal.
Tell us: what else do you think we can do to help ensure our favourite foods can keep growing?
If you enjoyed this article, read here about how we need to eat here