Food

11 Foods Climate Change Could Ruin Forever

Your children might grow up in a world of squishy apples and NO COFFEE. Pray for them.

1. Chocolate will get more expensive.

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Higher temperatures could continue to hurt yields of cocoa farmers in Africa (cocoa is a highly heat-sensitive crop) and have already caused big swings in the price of cocoa over the past decade. The less cocoa there is on the market, the more it costs chocolate manufacturers — and, eventually, you. Get ready for $5 candy bars, y’all.

2. Apples will get mushier.

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Rising temperatures mean that trees flower earlier in the season and fruit is softer and sweeter by harvest time. That’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world, but this study of Japanes Fuji apples shows that over the past 40 years they’ve already gotten significantly less tart and crunchy (which, after all, is what every good apple should be).

Of course, there’s also the possibility that apples might just stop growing altogether.

3. A good beer will be hard to find.

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A 2008 study in Nature showed that dryer, hotter summers are already hurting hops plants in Europe, and brewers in the U.S. could eventually have to deal with similar problems. The outlook for barley and clean water — the other two essential ingredients for making beer — isn’t so hot, either.

4. Fish will start to disappear.

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Studies show that ocean temperatures are already causing fish species all over the world to migrate north from their normal stomping grounds, and research by the National Resource Defense Council suggests that cold-water fish like trout and salmon in the U.S. could lose as much as 38% of their habitat (cold rivers and streams) by the year 2090. Changes like these are on top of the already-serious population pressure overfishing has put on many wild fish species.

5. Maple syrup will get harder to produce.

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Warmer, earlier springs thin out the sap in sugar maple trees, meaning that farmers have to tap and boil down more of it to produce the same amount of syrup as they would in a relatively colder year. Farmers in affected syrup-producing regions like New England have so far maintained the supply by using more efficient tapping technology, but they may not be able to keep pace with rising temperatures. According to a Cornell University study, “Maple production south of Pennsylvania will likely be lost by 2100 due to lack of freezing,”. The only silver syrup lining is that operations in Canada will probably continue to do just fine.

6. The majority of coffee plants could be destroyed.

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This study of wild Arabica coffee plants (the bean species that makes up 70% of the world’s cultivated coffee) projects that viable growing regions could be reduced to about one third of the current area by 2080 – or, in the worst-case scenario, totally wiped out.

Climate shifts may also be responsible for severe damage to Latin American coffee plants in the form of a fungal disease called leaf rust, which researchers say could destroy as much as 40% of the 2013-2014 harvest.

7. Raw oysters will be more likely to make you sick.

Regis Duvignau / Reuters

This Modern Farmer article describes how warming ocean waters mean that raw oysters — even from (previously) cold waters as far north as Alaska — are increasingly likely to harbor a nasty, sick-making bacteria called Vibrio, which scientists think could be a “bellwether, a bacteria whose increase can serve to illuminate other disease risks posed by warming waters.”

This means that even the traditional R-month rule for raw oysters (only eat them in months ending in R, when water is colder) won’t protect you for much longer if ocean temperatures keep rising at the current rate. The only good news is that Vibrio won’t kill you; it’ll just make you feel like shit for a few days.

8. Honey might stop existing.

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Severe, unusual weather conditions in 2012 caused huge disruptions to honey production in Spain (“The drought has been the cause that bees do not produce honey because there is no flowers”) as well as in Britain.

Rising temperatures are also causing trouble for American honeybees (confused because the plants they pollinate are now flowering a full month earlier than they’re supposed to). And all this is going on as the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder continues to do its work on bee populations. Bad news, honey bears!

9. Winemakers won’t be able to grow grapes.

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Wine makers are notoriously dependent on tiny subtleties of environment (temperature, soil, weather) to create the terroir that gives each wine its particular profile. Rising global temperatures will mean that traditional wine regions, especially in Europe (France, Italy, etc) will suffer as the suitable territory moves further north and to higher altitudes.

According to this study projecting the impact of climate change on worldwide wine production by the year 2050, Europe will be the hardest hit, with up to an “85 percent decrease in production in Bordeaux, Rhone, and Tuscany”. Australian wine would be next in line (down 74%), followed by California (down 70%).

One possible bright side: higher-latitude countries like the UK could experience a never-before-seen grape boom. But be honest: Do you really want Brits responsible for your wine?

10. Peanut butter could become a luxury item.

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Peanut plants are very vulnerable to droughts and floods, which have hurt yields and hiked prices in recent years. The diet staple of small children, poor college students and smelly backpackers everywhere could get significantly pricier if peanut crops (a big business in the Southeastern U.S.) continue to suffer from volatile weather patterns associated with global warming.

11. Almost all food production, everywhere, will be disrupted in ways we can’t predict yet.

ILYA NAYMUSHIN / Reuters

In the words of the World Bank’s Mark Sadler: “The real challenge for agriculture is that the environment, the production system, the variables that surround us, are increasingly volatile,” he said. “It will continue to be a challenge to raise agricultural productivity in a resilient way in the face of climate change and this is the reality we face.”

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