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Your favorite everyday foods could be threatened by global warming

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We all know that we will need to eat less meat in the future, as animal husbandry is responsible for around 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions around the world.

But did you know that other staple foods may one day be less present on our plates due to the effects of climate change, such as drought and repeated rainy episodes? This is the case with pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and even coffee.

Here’s how your favorite everyday foods could be affected by global warming:

Rice

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Arsenic in rice. It sounds crazy, but this potential scenario could come true due to the effects of rising temperatures. A scientific study published in the journal Nature Communications in 2019 showed that an atmospheric concentration of CO2 increases the levels of arsenic, released more abundantly by microorganisms. And each time a paddy field is irrigated, this arsenic accumulates in the future grains of rice to be harvested.

This is a real problem when you know that rice is the third cereal in the world. In addition, the negative impact of climate change on the nutritional qualities of rice has already been detected. American researchers have discovered that the content of iron, zinc and vitamins (B9, B1, B2 and B5) in rice is reduced in an environment with a high concentration of carbon dioxide. It is still a vicious circle, since rice production generates between 9 and 11% of global methane emissions.

Wheat pasta

(Image credit: Rebeca G Sendroiu / Unsplash)

Will we ever eat sorghum or chickpea pasta instead of the durum variety? This is a question we should perhaps give serious thought to, since the French Union of Pasta Manufacturers has sounded the alarm bells on the dangers of climate change.

Droughts and successive rainy episodes ravaged the fields of durum wheat, essential for the production of penne, macaroni and other varieties of pasta. In August, the industry said this summer’s drought in Canada – which accounts for two-thirds of the world durum trade – would cause the harvest to drop 32% from the average for the past five years.

And that’s not the only concern. The quality of wheat can also be affected, with a decrease in protein and starch content, making pasta production almost impossible! And other durum wheat foods, like semolina and bulgur, could also be taken off the menu.

Vegetables

From sun-drenched Greek eggplants to juicy Sicilian tomatoes, enjoy them while you can, because with global warming, the production of vegetables – especially those grown in southern Europe – is under threat. If the current scenario of global warming continues unabated, the vegetable harvest could decline by 31.5% globally, according to a study published in the journal PNAS in 2018.

Warmer air and reduced water resources would certainly not be favorable for zucchini, tomatoes and other vegetables. And the study could not be more serious, since the researchers analyzed 174 scientific articles on the impact of climate change on vegetables and their nutritional content since 1975. Production in much of Africa, but also of South Asia is seriously threatened.

Fruit

From apples with altered colors to cherries that split and warp strawberries, rising temperatures also have an impact on fruit production. According to GIS Fruits, which supports the French fruit industry in its economic development and helps it adapt to climate change, the seasonal calendar can be upset, causing pome and stone fruits to ripen earlier than in the past.

The flowering of fruit trees could also be more irregular. A warmer climate, along with reduced differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures, are among the main reasons for this predicted scenario. On the positive side, summer fruits might get sweeter and therefore better in the future.

Coffee

In addition to its production, the taste of coffee is also threatened by the adverse effects of global warming. American researchers demonstrated in October that the quality of our cup of joe is sensitive to environmental variables. More concretely, the exposure of coffee trees to more intense light can be detrimental for the final taste. Contrary to popular belief, coffee plants grow in cool land and at high altitudes.

However, they also fear freezing. With coffee being one of the most consumed drinks in the world, Finnish scientists are working on a new concept to ensure that we can continue sipping our espresso with peace of mind. They developed a laboratory-grown coffee from plant cells taken from the leaves of coffee trees, echoing the concept of meat produced in vitro.

This article was published via AFP.

(Hero credits and featured images: Christina Rumpf / Unsplash)


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