As humans, food is more than just our favorite thing to Instagram or watch professional chefs cook on TV. It’s also what fuels us and keeps us healthy.
But as the global average temperature continues to rise, the food landscape as we currently know it is bound to change — and not for the better.
A recent report by The US Global Change Research Program, a government-led environmental research group that devotes its time to researching our ever-changing planet, uncovered the countless changes that are bound to happen to our food supply as climate change progresses. To save you from having to dig through the entire report, we’ve listed everything you need to know below.
FOOD MAY BECOME LESS NUTRITIOUS
When the temperatures spike, so does atmospheric carbon dioxide. And when plants are exposed to too much of the gas, their nutrients get fried. According to the report, essential nutrients and minerals like protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and nitrogen are all negatively affected by the increasing CO2 levels. Fewer nutrients = fewer health benefits, which is bad news for your health.
From hurricanes to mudslides, we’re all familiar with the weather’s damaging effects on the land. But the rising temperatures also compromise the safety of our food. Droughts, flooding, and rising temps can aid the transportation of E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter in agricultural environments. Simply put: The risk of being exposed to disease-causing organisms increases as the temperature continues to climb. To stay safe, it will become increasingly important to stay on top of food contamination and foodborne illness announcements.
WE’LL BE EXPOSED TO MORE TOXINS)
While nearly all fish contain trace levels of mercury, rising ocean water temps are said to increase the concentrations of the health-harming element. (The warmer the water, the easier it is for fish to absorb mercury.) While small amounts of mercury aren't overly harmful to our bodies, high levels of this naturally occurring toxic metal can increase the risk of mercury poisoning. Some symptoms of the health hazard include impaired vision, hearing, and speech, and loss of muscle strength.
Rising water temps and ocean acidification are also putting a number of fish species at risk of becoming endangered. Regularly eating seafood is a major facet of many diets, including the uber-healthy Mediterranean diet, so hopefully we won’t have to say “so long” to all of the fishies anytime soon.
IT WILL DAMAGE THE FOOD SUPPLY
From droughts to floods to a complete change in harvesting seasons, the extreme weather is dishing out some pretty harsh conditions. As a result, the food transportation system is being majorly disrupted. The resulting supply chain changes will likely to lead to less availability and access to food and could also increase the risk of spoilage and contamination as food travels to its final destination.