As our planet is rapidly changing due to increasing temperatures, it plays a major role in the existence of some plant and animal species. When it comes to food, we don’t often consider them as endangered but scientists would disagree. According to some scientists, our favorite foods are headed for extinction and it’s not that far away. As the temperature rises and the climate becomes more and more inhospitable, droughts, wildfires and heat waves are destroying precious wildlife. By 2050, it is believed that an average human being won’t be able to afford some of the products they enjoy today. Here, we are listing some of your favorite food items that are on the “endangered foods” list.
Can you imagine a life without chocolate? Neither can I! Every year, we consume up to 10 million metric tons of chocolate or close to $30 billion worth of it. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the dried and fermented seeds of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). The evergreen tree was once subjected to a mass extinction during the 1990’s, when 80% of Brazil’s cocoa tree population was devastated by pests and fungal diseases. Scientists fear that it will happen again, and next time, it could potentially take out the entire tree population. Due to the rise in the use of pesticides, pests are becoming increasingly tolerant of them.
Apart from that, evapotranspiration also plays a major role. Evapotranspiration is the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants. Especially since the rise in temperatures, there has been less evapotranspiration, which means less rainfall every year. According to Climate.gov, “As higher temperatures squeeze more water out of soil and plants, it’s unlikely that rainfall will increase enough to offset the moisture loss”. Several studies also show that by 2050, there won’t be enough cocoa to accommodate the demand; causing sky-high prices. (source 1, 2)
It’s a known fact that avocados are a superfood that provides nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving. Add it to your eggs, toast or salad, as the low sugar and high fiber food has powerful health benefits. The United States alone consumes more than 37 million pounds of avocados per week. The creamy food is practically in every brunch menu across the US, but studies show that they won’t be for long. Of the 57 avocado producing countries, Mexico supplies 45% of the international avocado market.
If you are among those who love avocados, then it might be saddening to know that they are among the fruits that are disappearing. Just one pound of avocado requires a whopping 72 gallons of water to grow. Ken Melban, the director of issues management for the California Avocado Commission, told Slate, “98% of California is in a drought condition, so the ramifications are much broader than whether someone can get an avocado in New York City”. Over 80% of avocados supplied around the US are produced in California farms. (source)
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around the world. Americans alone consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year, making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world. The widely consumed beverage, and its active ingredient — caffeine — is currently in trouble. According to a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the world’s largest coffee-producing regions could shrink by as much as 88% by 2050; due to the rising temperatures. According to the new analysis, while some countries may be spared, it could have a devastating impact on the price of coffee. (source)
Did you know that we are more genetically related to bananas than some animal species. According to a recent study, the genetic similarity between a human and a banana is 60%. Bananas are high in potassium and contain good levels of protein and dietary fiber. Studies show that they are good to tackle depression and to improve our mood. According to reports, a disease known as “Tropical Race 4” is currently spreading throughout Africa and Asia, and experts believe that if it manages to reach South America (the biggest supplier of Cavendish), that it may mark the end of America’s favorite fruit.
The disease affects the vascular system of the banana plant, preventing it from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. Reports show that the disease is spreading across continents at a fast rate and wiping out banana plantations. (source)
It’s no surprise that honey is on the list of endangered foods. Since the past two decades, the bee population has been declining; severely impacting the production of honey. According to Global Research, the Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has caused more than a 40% decline in the bee population. While they might be taking over our backyards and annoying us with their buzzing and stingers, they’re a vital part of our ecosystem. (source)
A study by Bioversity International and the International Rice Research Institute found that 18 to 25 percent of peanut species may become nonexistent by 2055. The peanut butter staple requires nearly five months of consistent warmth and approximately 20 to 40 inches of rainfall. Depending on local weather conditions and the amount of rainfall per year, they require lots of water. In addition to that, they also require moist soil that prevents toxic mold. The rise in temperatures have been making it extremely difficult for farmers around the world to grow the legume. (source)
According to the annual Fisheries of the United States Report released by NOAA last week, Americans increased their seafood consumption to 15.5 pounds of fish and shellfish per person in 2015. At this rate, researchers say that there will be no more fish in the oceans by 2048. Overfishing and destructive fishing practices used by industrial fishing companies are causing a major decline in the fish population. Fishing methods such as trawling, scoops up any and all fish that comes its way, including endangered ones. This causes a loss in diversity and imbalance in the ecosystem. (source)
8. Maple Syrup
Similar to peanuts, the sugar maple trees require very specific and stable weather conditions. Our ever-changing climate is no longer helping the trees sustain themselves, affecting the global production. As each year goes by, manufacturers are having to start their syrup-producing season earlier than usual. Sugar maples also require freezing temperatures in the winter, and warm spring days to produce sap. The warm summers and droughts aren’t helping the plants or farmers. (source)
9. Potato Chips and Fries
French fries or fried potato chips are the saltiest and most satisfying fried side dish we can order. As delicious as they can be, studies show that they won’t last for long. According to a study conducted by Bioversity International and the International Rice Research Institute, up to 25% of wild potato species are predicted to become extinct by 2055. Potato farmers are worried that the rising temperatures are only going to worsen things, forcing them to move towards producing other crops. (source)
10. Bread and Grains
We often forget that some of the most deliciously baked bread starts out as innocent wheat plants. Like many other plant-based foods, wheat might not survive the major changes Earth’s climate might endure in the next few decades. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, a study found that grain-growing croplands may become obsolete due to unpredictable weather patterns. Reports show that by 2050, wheat-producing countries including the U.S., China, India, and France would be affected the most by the rising temperatures. (source)