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Climate Change: How does it affect the Food Industry?

As a City Tech student majoring in Hospitality Management, you get to learn about the ins and outs of the industry, from the steps of running a restaurant to the nitty gritty of food preparation. A key factor within this industry, as well as the food industry, is the need to acquire ingredients for the recipes that are designed and created to serve customers. The term “food industry” is a broad term used to describe the overall, collective businesses that supply the food for the world’s population, covering all industrial activities involved with processing, conversion, and preparation, preservation, and packaging of foodstuffs. National Geographic defines Climate Change as “a long-term shift in global or regional climate patterns”, specifically referring to the rise in global temperatures from the mid-20th century to present day.  This industry is impacted greatly by climate change, however at the same time, is responsible for one-fourth of greenhouse gas emissions in numerous ways.

The food industry is impacted greatly by climate change mostly because food production and food security are affected by the changes in temperature, as well as the frequency and severity of natural disasters. These factors affect food production and food security because they impact crop growth and reproduction, which will affect crop yield. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “In some areas, warming may benefit the types of crops that are typically planted there or allow farmers to shift to crops that are currently grown in warmer areas. Conversely, if the higher temperature exceeds a crop’s optimum temperature, yields will decline.” This means that depending on the increase in temperature, if it becomes too high, the crops that have been planted may not grow because they will dry out and wither. Farmers may be able to work around it by swapping out the crops that don’t work with those temperatures for ones that do, however, that adds to the issue of food security because as less and less is grown and produced due to the increase in temperatures, less and less becomes available to provide for the global food supply. On the other hand, the frequency and severity of natural disasters also pose threats on food production and food security because the destruction of crops further limits food availability due to crops being unable to grow, which in turn, increases hunger crises. According to Emily Folk, a writer for The Ecologist, “More intense floods and droughts can destroy harvests, driving up food prices and limiting the variety of food available. Floods, made worse by climate change, can destroy crops, cause landslides and strip away topsoil. At the same time, increased heat appears to be making disease outbreaks in livestock and crops more common. Current research shows that as temperatures rise, crop production will get more and more difficult. According to one study, corn yields will decrease an average of 7.4 percent for every degree Celsius of warming.” This poses as a great concern because if climate change continues, less food will be available, which means more families and people will die of hunger and malnourishment.

https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2014/09/10/Global-food-trade-may-not-meet-future-demands-warn-researchers

Although the food industry is greatly affected by the result of climate changes in many ways, unfortunately it is also a big factor contributing to climate change as well. Due to the different parts of the process, such as production, processing, and distribution, the food industry is responsible for a large chunk of greenhouse gas emissions. According to Julia Moskin at the New York Times, “The world’s food system is responsible for about one-quarter of the planet-warming greenhouse gases that humans generate each year. That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat — beef, chicken, fish, milk, lentils, kale, corn and more — as well as processing, packaging and shipping food to markets all over the world.” This contributes to climate change/global warming because forests are cleared in order to give room for livestock and farms to live on, causing large amounts of carbon to be released. When livestock digests their food, their burps contain methane, a greenhouse gas, along with methane in the manure. Lastly, fossil fuels are burned to operate the machinery, make fertilizer, and ship food globally, which generates emissions.

In conclusion, the food industry is affected by climate change as a result of not only the changes in temperature but also the frequency and severity of natural disasters. However, this industry is responsible for a large chunk of greenhouse gas emissions due to all the processes needed to provide and accommodate the global food supply.

Works Cited

“Climate Change.” National Geographic Society, 27 Mar. 2019, www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/climate-change/.

“Climate Impacts on Agriculture and Food Supply.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 31 May 2017, archive.epa.gov/epa/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-agriculture-and-food-supply.html

Folk, Emily. “Climate Change and Global Hunger.” The Ecologist, 21 Aug. 2020, theecologist.org/2020/aug/21/climate-change-and-global-hunger

Moskin, Julia, et al. “Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Apr. 2019, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/30/dining/climate-change-food-eating-habits.html.

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