There might be some very tangible, selfish reasons for foodies to care about climate change. It turns out that warming temperatures could not only impact our food supply, but they might also change how our food tastes.
A new report from the University of Melbourne compiled a list of many foods that are threatened by rising temperatures. Of course, the report specifically focused on Australia, which is enduring scorching heat waves. The island nation also gets 93 percent of its food supply from inside the country, so any changes in climate could drastically affect its food supply.
“It’s definitely a wake up call when you hear that the toast and raspberry jam you have for breakfast, for example, might not be as readily available in 50 years time,” says Associate Professor Richard Eckard from the University of Melbourne.
Eckard and colleagues found numerous food changes possible in a warmer future including:
Beets and carrots don’t do well in hot dry weather. Look forward to carrots with less flavor and poor texture, as well as beets with less color.
In areas where there is humidity as well as heat, potatoes are at a higher risk of blight–a nasty rotting disease.
Meat isn’t immune from heat waves either. Animals like chickens and cows can be just as stressed by higher temperatures as humans, and often they don’t have air conditioning to retreat to. Higher temperatures can affect appetite, so animals like chickens don’t eat as much or grow as plump–leading to tougher, more stringy meat.
And speaking of meat, many animals eat grains as a food source. Unfortunately, rising temperatures and droughts can lead to stunted crops of wheat and other products, leading to higher prices on both grain products and the animals that feed on grain.
Some of the most drastic changes could be seen in the dairy department. The researchers found that heat waves can reduce the amount of milk cows produce by 10 to 25 percent, and by up to 40 percent in extreme conditions.