Spain is world’s largest producer of olives followed by Italy and Greece. However summers in the Mediterranean are getting hotter and drier, with warm temperatures extending into spring and fall. The need for irrigation is expected to increase 18% over the region. While olives can tolerate periods without water, extended droughts can decrease vegetative growth, yield, olive size, and the oil content of the fruit. In Spain, shifts in weather patterns caused by climate change are resulting in more freeze injury to the fruit and subsequently a “frostbitten flavor,” now one of the most common defects in olive oil quality. Droughts during 2012 and 2014 stressed the trees in Andalusia—the region of Spain responsible for nearly a third of the world’s production.
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.