From: S.E. Smith, Care2, More from this Affiliate
Published March 27, 2015 10:34 AM

Shifting temperatures will affect flavors, quality of food

Love scrumptious vegan pizza? You’d better enjoy it while you can, because climate change is moving in to hog a slice. According to an Australian report, Appetite for Change, climate change isn’t just going to decimate existing crops — it’s also going to change the way the survivors taste. And not in a good way. The researchers say that we’re going to be eating increasingly bland, tasteless, mushy food because of the way shifting temperatures are affecting farming, and in fact, it’s already started happening.

We’re already aware that climate change is forcing agriculture to adjust. The amount of arable land on Earth is decreasing, and the types of food we can grow are also shifting — some regions are getting too hot and dry for traditional crops, for example. Changes in the climate may eventually wipe out some crops altogether, while others may become extremely rare and expensive. Coffee and cocoa, two extremely popular luxury crops, are particularly unhappy examples of this situation, as the plants are fussy and require very particular conditions to grow. Once those conditions are disrupted, they find it extremely difficult to recover.

The most stark illustration of the problem with climate change and produce may actually come from a Japanese study conducted in 2013. The researchers evaluated nearly 40 years of data on apples, looking at a number of quality metrics like texture, flavor and firmness. Over time, they discovered that apples were mushy, grainy, bland and less tart than before — in other words, our apples were really starting to get pretty terrible. Importantly, they found that trees were blooming earlier than before, and that even when harvest times were adjusted to account for the earlier blooming period, the apples collected were still of poor quality. This reflected a problem not just with the growing season, but also with how the fruit matured — bad news for apple fans.

Poor root vegetables took a particular beating in this study. They rely on rich, loose soil with excellent drainage and good moisture, otherwise they can’t grow to full size and they can become wooden and flavorless. They also need lush, healthy greens to photosynthesize and draw energy into the root — that’s what gives roots their size and flavor. Moreover, it’s important that the plants not “bolt” — go to seed too early — because the roots won’t fully develop if that’s the case. That means thin, woody, straggly carrots and beets without much flavor. Blech. Meanwhile, potatoes will be more prone to blight.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2.

Pizza image via Shutterstock.

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