Rice is a very important food for over three billion people globally. However, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that, unless agricultural practices improve significantly, water scarcity and increased temperatures may cause rice yields in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam to drop 50% by 2100.  Yields decline with higher nighttime temperatures, especially during the reproductive phase of the plant. In coastal regions, saltwater intrusion as sea levels rise increasingly threatens rice production. Scientists estimate that in some coastal areas of Bangladesh, rice yields will decline by 15% by 2050 due to soil salinity.The increase in occurrence of droughts also affects rice production. The situation is especially acute in California, where severe droughts result in water shortages. During California’s 2011-2014 drought, thousands of acres of land normally in rice production were left fallow. Rice farming also contributes significantly to climate change. The microbes in rice paddies’ anaerobic soils decompose organic matter and produce about 9% of global anthropogenic methane emissions. Studies also showed decreases in B vitamins of 17-30% with increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere expected in the future.
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.