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New Cornell Book: "Our Changing Menu"

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Explores Impact of Climate Change on Food

Cornell University Press has just published a new book about the impact of climate change on food, Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need.

In the book, Michael P. Hoffmann, professor emeritus at Cornell, and Carrie Koplinka-Loehr and Danielle L. Eiseman explore how climate change is affecting out food in subtle and not so subtle ways.

As the climate continues to change, some regions of the world will have adequate water and others far from it, reducing crop production. In the northeast US, increasing downpours are washing away soil and nutrients. It’s also getting warmer, with some surprising twists. Nights are warming faster than days, and cold months of the year are warming twice as fast as warm months. These changes have dramatic effects on crop yields.

There is also a lot more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and it’s climbing. This can actually increase yields, but any gain is expected to be offset by more extremes in weather. Weeds will likely get harder to control and the nutritional quality of major crops will decline, to mention just a few changes described in Our Changing Menu.

The book examines how scientists around the world are developing crops that are more climate-change resilient. Scientists in England are partnering with colleagues in Costa Rica to help develop more resilient cacao plants. Researchers with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are finding ways to help farmers adapt to the new conditions and minimize their contributions to climate change. Universities are working with farmers to find practical solutions to the ever-increasing challenges posed by climate change.

Our Changing Menu encourages readers to become better informed about the science of climate change, the impacts it is having, and how to talk about it. In addition, it calls on us to get involved by engaging policymakers, raising our voices, becoming an activist, and joining forces.

A companion website to the book, which includes a searchable database of hundreds of foods and food ingredients and how each is changing, is well worth taking a look as well.

- TCCPI Newsletter, March-April 2021