Think long and hard about your favorite thing to eat.
Take in all the delicious smells. The sheer joy from every last bite, sip, chomp, or slurp.
Now, think long and hard about having to say goodbye to your favorite food forever.
Because some of America’s favorite foods and drinks won’t make it much longer.
Yes, these sweet and savory delights are all at risk of experiencing a significant shortage, some as early as 2030.
These are five of the treats at stake and what you can do to stop them from disappearing:
1. Peanut butter. A moment of silence for all that naked toast, y’all.
You eat it by the spoonful when you’re alone in your apartment, drop it in smoothies, and turn an ordinary sauce into a can’t-miss satay. Americans gobble it up, consuming about three and a half pounds of peanut butter per person each year. It’s an affordable pantry staple, packed with protein, and freaking delicious.
Oh yeah, and it’s disappearing from the Earth.
It’s really hard to grow a peanut, as the plants are kind of temperamental. They need just the right combination of sun and rain to survive each year. Some of the southeastern states where peanuts grow have experienced droughts in the past few years, and peanut plants have simply shriveled up.
Farmers and agricultural researchers are working on drought-resistant varieties, but the big culprit, climate change, isn’t going away.
2. Beer. Sweet, sweet beer.
It takes a few ingredients to brew a great beer, including hops. Hops are the flowers making your beer super tasty, and they’re primarily grown in the Pacific Northwest. But due to rising temperatures and a dwindling water supply, hop yields have decreased significantly.
In March, more than 40 breweries large and small signed on to the Climate Declaration, a group of businesses urging policymakers to act on climate change. Many of those breweries have already done their part to help make their businesses sustainable, but they need some assistance at the top to make a lasting impact.
3. Chocolate. Good heavens. What have we done?
To make delicious chocolate chips, Nutella, and other fudgy delights, you need cocoa. A whopping 70% of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West African nations like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
According to a study from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, this region is predicted to experience a 2-degree (Celsius) temperature change by 2050. This may not seem like much, but more water will evaporate from the air and leaves, leaving little behind for cocoa plants. These areas will become inadequate for cocoa production as early as 2030.
4. Coffee. Nature’s most aromatic alarm clock.
Ever want to feel alive again, or at the very least somewhat awake? Time to make a move on climate change, amigo.
Different varieties of coffee are so closely adapted to their specific region and climate zone that even a half-degree increase can have a noticeable impact. Warmer temperatures can expand the reach of bugs and fungi that prey on coffee plants. In fact, three of the top five coffee-growing countries in the world (India, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia) have seen a significant drop in yield.
And you may be thinking, “Fine, I’ll switch to tea.” Not so fast. Tea farmers are experiencing problems of their own.
5. All things pumpkin. Yes, even the lattes.
Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin cake. If you’ve been to a grocery store the past six weeks, you know this list could be very long. And all of it is at risk because of the shrinking pumpkin crop.
Is this the last pumpkin pie ever? No, but don’t get complacent with the amount of pumpkin in your life. Photo by David Goehring/Flickr.
Libby’s, the company behind 80% of the world’s processed pumpkin, suffered a major shortage this year due to an exceptionally soggy summer at its Illinois farm. In the past 100 years, Illinois has experienced a 10% increase in precipitation. And three of the four wettest years in Illinois have happened since 2010.
“We’re fairly certain that’s tied to climate change,” Jim Angel, a state climatologist for the Illinois State Water Survey, told Scientific American.
While none of these foods are critical for our survival, their sharp declines (and price increases) may spur more people to act.
We may not notice if there are fewer snow leopards or if it’s a little bit warmer this winter. But when there are just a few cans of pumpkin on the shelf or our morning coffee doubles in price, more and more of us will start to ask questions, take action, and demand change.
If you weren’t already doing everything you can to fight climate change, then do it for your favorite indulgence.
Call your representatives, support sustainable industries, let your voice be heard.
Because after all chocolate, beer, and peanut butter (and the growers who make them possible) have done for us, it’s time we return the favor.