Put simply, hot cows give less milk and many US farmers could struggle to help their cows stay cool and to find affordable water for feed production and livestock in coming years. A lactating dairy cow drinks up to 50 gal. (190 L) of water daily and much more when she is heat stressed. When heat stressed they drink and respire more but eat less, which lowers milk production. Some heat-stressed cows produce milk with less protein, lactose, and fat. The cows’ immune systems can also weaken in hot conditions and their fertility rates drop. Heat stress effects can last weeks to months.
Yields of major staple crops like wheat and rice are being hurt by increasing temperatures. Wine grape production is moving to cooler climes causing changes in the character of some of our favorites. The flavors and health benefits of teas, the size of potatoes, the sting of a hot pepper, where fish call home in the oceans, and a future decline in protein in vegetables—it’s all changing.
Our food database shows the ingredients affected by a changing climate.
To learn what farmers, scientists, and many others are doing to keep the menu stocked, see Stewardship of the Land and Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need. You have a role, too!
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This food ingredient database is in its early phase and we will strive to expand it on an ongoing basis so that everyone is aware of how climate change is affecting the foods we love and need.