Food Tips

4 Ways Climate Change May Affect Your Diet

According to a new study, climate change is going to have major impacts on what ends up on your plate.

Talk about climate change is heating up. But beyond impacting debate topics, rising temps will have a serious impact on the global food supply—and ultimately your diet.

According to a new study published in The Lancet, climate change will have a major impact on what ends up on our plates over the next few decades. There’s already research about how specific climate factors (like drought or flooding) will impact the agricultural production of certain regions. But this is the first study of its kind to look at how climate change will impact everyday diets around the globe.

Researchers used predictive modeling to map out how four trajectories (high global emissions, low global emissions, and two middle-of-the-road possibilities) would impact agricultural production and red meat consumption—two key indicators of optimal nutrition, according to Marco Springmann, Ph.D., the lead author of the study.

The results are pretty scary. Here are the biggest ways rising temps will impact your diet:

1. Fruits and veggies will be harder to come by.

As you know, not all calories are created equal—getting your daily allotment from a bag of chips is not nearly the same thing as getting your fill from a healthy veggie bowl. This makes it even more concerning that the fruit and vegetable supply will be hit hard in the next 30 years. “Some crops might be harder hit than others,” says Springmann. “But what is really important to look at is the whole group of fruits and vegetables since this is so associated with health outcomes.” Their findings predict overall consumption will decrease by about 4 percent by 2050.

2. Say bye-bye to burgers.

Even more than fruits and veggies, climate change will reduce our consumption of red meat by 2050. According to the study, red meat consumption will decline by 7 percent between now and then.

3. Olive oil will get pricier.

According to Springmann, their models predict that climate change will hit the Mediterranean region especially hard. Since the Mediterranean is a leading producer of healthy foods like olive oil and figs, we could see sticker shock on these grocery store staples as they become less plentiful.

4. Food will be scarcer overall.

According to the study authors, all these food changes will be associated with over half a million deaths worldwide by 2050. In fact, people will be twice as likely to suffer from serious, deadly health issues from malnutrition than from actual starvation.

So what do we do about it? Since these findings suggest that nutrition and weight-related issues will become even more pressing than other health effects, it’s all about preventing climate change as much as possible and planning for adaptations to any change that does occur, according to Springmann. In the meantime, you don’t need to start stockpiling olive oil. But perhaps pay extra attention to the quality of food that’s on your plate.

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