5 foods and drinks that may not be around for the next generation thanks to climate change.

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.


GIF via "Key & Peele."

Now, think long and hard about having to say goodbye to your favorite food forever.

GIF via "Adventure Time."

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.

Borderline pornographic photo by Dan McKay/Flickr.

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.

Left: Hops on the vine. Photo by The mad Penguin/Flickr. Right: A flight of beers. Photo by Lauren Topor/Flickr.

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.

I want to go to there. Photo by Various Brennemans/Flickr.

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.

Photo by Susanne Nilsson/Flickr.

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.

GIF via cinematic tour de force "Armageddon."

Pexels.com
True

June 26, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter. Think of the Charter as the U.N.'s wedding vows, in which the institution solemnly promises to love and protect not one person, but the world. It's a union most of us can get behind, especially in light of recent history. We're less than seven months into 2020, and already it's established itself as a year of reckoning. The events of this year—ecological disaster, economic collapse, political division, racial injustice, and a pandemic—the complex ways those events feed into and amplify each other—have distressed and disoriented most of us, altering our very experience of time. Every passing month creaks under the weight of a decade's worth of history. Every quarantined day seems to bleed into the next.

But the U.N. was founded on the principles of peace, dignity, and equality (the exact opposite of the chaos, degradation, and inequality that seem to have become this year's ringing theme). Perhaps that's why, in its 75th year, the institution feels all the more precious and indispensable. When the U.N. proposed a "global conversation" in January 2020 (feels like thousands of years ago), many leapt to participate—200,000 within three months. The responses to surveys and polls, in addition to research mapping and media analysis, helped the U.N. pierce through the clamor—the roar of bushfire, the thunder of armed conflict, the ceaseless babble of talking heads—to actually hear what matters: our collective human voice.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Hot Bread Kitchen
True

When non-essential businesses in NYC were ordered to close in March, restaurants across the five boroughs were tasked to pivot fast or risk shuttering their doors for good.

The impact on the city's once vibrant restaurant scene was immediate and devastating. A national survey found that 250,000 people were laid off within 22 days and almost $2 billion in revenue was lost. And soon, numerous restaurant closures became permanent as the pandemic raged on and businesses were unable to keep up with rent and utility payments.

Hot Bread Kitchen, a New York City-based nonprofit and incubator that has assisted more than 275 local businesses in the food industry, knew they needed to support their affiliated restaurants in a new light to navigate the financial complexities of shifting business models and applying for loans.

According to Hot Bread Kitchen's CEO Shaolee Sen, shortly after the shutdown began, a third of restaurant workers that they support had been laid off and another third were furloughed.

Keep Reading Show less
Mozilla
True
Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less

Here we are, six months into the coronavirus pandemic, and people are tired. We're tired of social distancing, wearing masks, the economic uncertainty, the constant debates and denials, all of it.

But no one is more tired than the healthcare workers on the frontline. Those whom we celebrated and hailed as heroes months ago have largely been forgotten as news cycles shift and increased illness and death become "normal." But they're still there. They're still risking themselves to save others. And they've been at it for a long time.

Mary Katherine Backstrom shared her experience as the wife of an ER doctor in Florida, explaining the impact this pandemic is having on the people treating its victims and reminding us that healthcare workers are still showing up, despite all of the obstacles that make their jobs harder.

Keep Reading Show less