The Future. Despite 2023 turning out to be the hottest year on record, farmers have been able to maintain production — for now. As the global average temperature is expected to rise, extreme weather could burn or drown more of our food supply, raising the prices of what’s on our plates as a result.
Making ends meat
Vox serves up a platter of foods overcooked in 2023’s wild climate.
- Olive oil: high temps and little rain across the Mediterranean damaged olives, making olive oil more valuable than crude oil this year. Global olive oil production is anticipated to fall by half in 2023.
- Blueberries: Peru, the world’s largest exporter of blueberries, is in the middle of El Niño. As blueberries need cool weather to grow, half as many from Peru have made it to the US, increasing prices by 40% since July.
- Grapes: drought, heavy rainfall, and early frost have pushed global wine production to its lowest in 60 years.
- Rice: with heavy rains and floods damaging rice paddies in China, and hot, dry weather reducing production in other countries, rice prices in Asia have jumped to their highest levels in 15 years.
- Beef: due to hot, muggy weather across the US, hundreds of cattle died this summer in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, driving up beef prices.
While higher temps mean heat waves are becoming more common and intense, they also mean cold spells — which can be fatal to crops like apricots, peaches, apples, and nectarines — are less likely. Warmer winters have also extended the growing season, allowing farmers to squeeze more plantings out of their land.
Still, “the risks climate change poses to agriculture are expected to outweigh any potential benefits,” according to the Fifth National Climate Assessment released by the US government earlier this month.
It’s time to turn down the heat.