Our Changing Menu – An Introduction
Why Our Changing Menu?
Like everyone else we love and need food—that coffee at daybreak, the mid-day snack, or a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer eve. We are also deeply concerned about our changing climate. So we joined forces. A farm kid and former Marine who became a scientist, a writer, passionate about sharing the stories that people in a changing world want to tell, and a PhD lecturer, but once a chef. The three of us seemed the right combination to tell this story in a book, Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods we Love and Need.
There are plenty of worrisome stories about the impacts climate change is having around the world, but few about what climate change means to the many foods and beverages we love and need—fish from the Bering Sea, cocoa from West Africa, Brazil nuts from Bolivia, tea from India, or Sushi rice from California. Our goal is to draw attention to climate change through food because it is highly relevant to everyone—we all eat. However, it’s a rapidly evolving story with menu ingredients changing daily, consequently a “living” version of the book was needed—the Our Changing Menu website.
The site is organized somewhat like the book starting with a primer on climate change, how the menu is changing (from drinks to desserts), and solutions. The latter includes what we all can do, personally. Most importantly, Our Changing Menu can readily be kept up-to-date with all the changes that are occurring to the foods we love and need. The site also includes a searchable database of food ingredients being affected by climate change. With each food ingredient there is information about how droughts, heat waves, or sea level rise are bring about change, some benign, some ominous. There is also a parallel database focused on plant-based products such as perfumes, pharmaceuticals, paints, pet food, and clothing (e.g. cotton) that are also undergoing change.
Additional features of the site will include an interactive platform for users to share climate change and menu stories and newsfeeds of the latest changes in the world of foods and beverages. Website content and data from the food databases will also be used to develop Instagram carousels and guides (infographics) that will help foster a personalized touch to telling this story to engage a broad community.
The audience for our story is very broad—who doesn’t eat? Whether you’re a connoisseur of fine wines, chef, baker, distiller, restaurateur, CEO of a food company, or someone who simply enjoys a good pizza or great drink, it’s critical to know what is happening to our incredibly diverse and interwoven global food system. The emphasis is on the world’s rich countries, but especially the US—the “we” in Our Changing Menu—because we have contributed the most to climate change and are best positioned to do something about it.
There are no villains in Our Changing Menu. Many of us, including farmers, ranchers, and employees of food businesses, governments, and nonprofits around the world, are striving to address climate change. We need to work together to address this grand challenge.
Once you have visited Our Changing Menu and read our book for a deeper dive into the topic you will be able to share the climate change and food story with friends, relatives, neighbors and those in positions of influence—business leaders and policy makers. Raise this highly relevant issue to a new level—the effects on the economy, jobs, and global social unrest, let alone the foods we love and need. If we raise our voices, we just might be able to start a social movement around food and climate change and help bring about the sweeping changes needed to tackle climate change.
Michael P. Hoffmann
Danielle L. Eiseman
Read the story:
Explore our book & databases:
Our Food Comes From Everywhere
In the US about 8% of farms market locally but a lot of food still travels great distances to get to our table.
Our World is Changing
Humans are warming the thin layer of atmosphere that covers the globe. Because of this global warming, the climate is changing.
Our Changing Menu: The Book
This website reflects the contents of Our Changing Menu. The book is informative and science-based, providing greater detail on every topic than on this website.
Our Crops are Changing
Climate change is altering the water, air, and soil that plants rely on. We depend on these plants for life.
Our Menu is Changing
Almost everything on the menu—from drinks to dessert—is changing, including foods that are part of our cultures, family traditions, and fond memories. This is the heart of the story.
Food Ingredient Database
Your favorite foods are changing, and they’ll keep changing in the future. Our food Ingredient Database shows what’s being affected by a changing climate. We will continue to add ingredients and the newest research.
Stewardship of the Land
Farmers are adopting climate-smart strategies to stay resilient despite a changing climate. Scientists and many others are seeking ways to keep the menu stocked.
What You Can Do
Become climate change literate, build the community, adopt a more plant-based diet, reduce food waste, consider your entire carbon footprint, appreciate and support the people who supply the menu, and be an activist.
Plant-Based Product Database
The plant-based products we encounter every day are also changing in many ways. From textiles and perfumes to pet food and lotions, our plant-based database demonstrates the impacts of climate change on these products.