Top 10 Foods That Might Disappear If Temperatures Keep Rising

By: Rowan Jacobsen  |  May/June, 2018  |  10 Foods Threatened by Climate Change

Some of our favorite foods are crops we're in danger of losing due to climate change—or that may be forced to relocate to new, more hospitable climates.

Pictured: Red-Wine Hot Chocolate

When people talk about climate change, it's often about rising temperatures and shrinking habitats. But one result that will have the biggest impact on our day-to-day lives is what hotter temperatures mean for food crops. Some of our favorite foods require a certain climate to grow—or, in the case of fish and shellfish, particular water conditions to thrive. Here are 10 things we're at risk of losing, or that may be forced to move to cooler climates. That could have devastating impacts on local economies, and even impact the way the food tastes.

Related: Saving Our Food Supply in the Face of Climate Change

1. Coffee

Coffee

As the tropics get warmer, coffee bushes become less productive and more susceptible to disease. By 2050, an estimated 50 percent of current coffee-producing land could be unusable.

2. Chocolate

Chocolate

Cacao trees can take the heat, but they don't like the dryness that comes along with it. Some chocolate hot spots, like Indonesia and western Africa, are already seeing declines in yield.

3. Wine

Wine

Too much heat for too long destroys the acidity of grapes. The resulting wine tastes "cooked." By the end of the century, many celebrated regions, such as Napa Valley, may be too hot to make great wine.

4. Apples

Apples

Many apple varieties require a certain number of days of winter chill to produce fruit the following year. In the Northeast alone there are now 8 more frost-free days annually than a century ago.

5. Almonds

Almonds

California's almond crops (annually a $4 billion industry) survived the recent drought by pumping in groundwater, but if it recurs, expect almonds to get rarer—and much more expensive.

6. Corn

Corn

Yields of our most productive crop are already declining because of the freakishly hot summers of late. That trend will continue. By century's end, production could drop by up to 50 percent.

7. Beans

Beans

Other than a few desert stalwarts like the tepary, most vari­eties of beans hate heat. As global temperatures continue to rise, we could lose 50 percent of conventional bean crops by midcentury.

8. Oysters

Oysters

As carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, more gets absorbed by the oceans, which become increasingly acidic. That acid dissolves the calcium-based shells of bivalves like oysters.

9. Lobster

Lobster

Lobsters like cold water. And over the past few decades, their population has migrated northward. That's been great news for Maine lobstermen, but by 2100, the Gulf of Maine may be too warm for them.

10. Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

Sugar maple trees grow primarily in the Northeast, which by 2100 could have a climate similar to North Carolina's. The maples would have to move farther north for optimal sap production.

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