Dec 102014
 
Losing beans would be bad

There is a lot written about wildlife that may be threatened by climate change. It’s sort of ironic, but little publicity has focused on domestic sources of animal and plant food that we could lose, or at least, enjoy a lot less of. David Lobell, from the Stanford University Center of Food Security, says that losses may not be total catastrophes, but they will be losses we need to adopt to.  In other word, these kinds of food will still be available, but they are likely to get a lot more expensive.

1. Corn (And the Domestic Animals That Eat It)

It’s not just corn that we need to worry about, but also, the animals that rely upon that corn for feed that should concern us. All over the world, farmers have already began to suffer in terms of productivity. World corn production has declined by four percent.

Some factors that get the blame are droughts, both low and high temperature spikes, and even milder seasons. For example, some plants require a dormant phase during a cold winter to reach their greatest potential, and some parts of the world just aren’t freezing during the winter like they used to. Also, stay tuned for even more increases in the price of beef and poultry.

2. Coffee and Chocolate (Anything but that….)

Warmer tropical temperatures have encouraged the growth of threatening fungi species. Brazil suffered through a recent drought that have already caused the price of coffee to climb. While Latin American coffee producers are considering a move to Asia, African coffee-growing regions are expected to suffer through a decline in coffee product that could be from 65 to 100 percent.

African chocolate-growing regions are also expected to radically lose productivity if the temperature increases even two degree on average, as is expected, by 2050.

3. Beans (This is Bad)

Just when the doctors got around to telling us how healthy beans are because they provide lean protein and plenty of fiber, we may face global shortages. However, what may be healthy and budget-friendly choice for Westerners is a staple food in vast tracts of Asia, Mexico, Central, and South America. Rising temperatures cut cut expected production by as much as a quarter.

4. Grapes (Yes, the Kind That Make Wine)

Higher temperatures and changing rain patterns are really going to sour the party when almost all wine-growing parts of the world lose production, or even, entire fields. Australia and California are expected to lose the most wine-growing lands, but the problem will also be felt in Europe, South America, and Africa.

Increased temperatures are also expected to change the flavors of the wine crops that do survive, so this will have a major impact on the industry. On the other hand, these grapes usually become sweeter and produce wine with higher alcohol contents, so you won’t have to drink as much of your more expensive wine to get giddy.

5. Wheat (Yes, cake is made out of wheat, too)

By 2050, products made mostly from wheat could get 3 to 84 percent more expensive. Wheat product has to keep increasing to keep up with demand, but that increase has been slowing to alarming levels over the past few years. Already, rising bread prices have contributed to political instability in some parts of Africa and Asia, and they have pinched the budgets of Western consumers too.

Is There Any Good News About the Food Supply and Climate Change?

A few scientists have speculated that increased CO2 levels are good for plants. They “inhale” CO2 the way that we inhale oxygen. But critics contend that extra CO2 doesn’t do any good, and if it did, it would be negatively balanced out by lack of water and temperature changes. On the other hand, some countries may experience increased square miles of arable land, and this could help them increase production. Whatever the case, it is likely that the source of many common foods is likely to change along with our definition of affordable groceries.

 

 

 

Dec 092014
 
Gros Michel vs Cavendish

For most people, the biggest debate about bananas is if they should get peeled from the top or the bottom. Of course, there are also the great questions about just how ripe they should be for consumption. Do you like them just past green or brown, sweet, and almost mushy?

Regardless of whether you are a top or a bottom in the great banana peeling debate, or if you prefer bananas starchy or sweet, there are plenty of things you probably didn’t know about the common ones that you may enjoy sliced in your cereal or blended into a smoothie. These include possible threats to the world banana supply.

1. We Aren’t Eating the Same Bananas as Our Grandparents

Gros Michel vs Cavendish

Big Mike bananas: Were bananas better back in the day?

The kind of banana that is most commonly found in produce aisles of grocery stores is called a Cavendish. Developed in the 1830, the Cavendish banana didn’t really become popular until some time in the 1950s. Before that, a type of banana called Gros Michel, or Big Mike, was the main type of banana sold on the market. According to sources, banana extracts and flavorings actually taste more like this classic banana than the currently popular Cavendish.

Where Did Gros Michel Bananas Go?

If Gros Michel bananas tasted so good, why aren’t they still popular? Big Mike is not totally extinct, but Panama Disease, a fungus, attacked the supply in South America and Africa, and these two continents also exported heavily to North America and Europe. The Cavendish is resistant to this fungus, and it also has a longer shelf life and is easier to transport than Big Mike, but they may not taste quite as “banana-y” as the original. Gros Michel bananas are still grown in parts of Asia where the fungus is not a problem.

2. Today’s Commercial Bananas are Clones

One thing that makes bananas vulnerable to disease is the fact that the seeds have been mostly cultivated out of them to make them more enjoyable. Plants are grafted to each other, and this reduces the genetic diversity in each plant, so it is unlikely that one banana plant is resistant to a fungus or other disease that attacks others of its kind.

There is some reason for concern because even though Cavendish are resistant, but not invulnerable, to the fungus that attacked the Gros Michel banana, they are threatened by other fungi. This is a concern because there is not a commercially available replacement for the Cavendish as the Cavendish replaced Big Mike. In 2013, a disease called Black Sigatoka raised major concerns that the supply of Cavendish would be threatened, and plant specialists are working hard to produce hybrid varieties with more resistance. Hopefully, we will not all by singing Yes! We Have No Bananas!

3. Bananas Are Important

Actually, you may not be insulting a person when you say they are bananas. This versatile and tasty fruit is a nutritional goldmine, and some different varieties provide a critical source of starch in some parts of the world. They contain little fat, but they do give us vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber. At around 100 calories, bananas can be frozen for smoothies, eaten ripe as a portable snack, and provide just the right amount of sweetness and textures to sandwiches and desserts.