Food doesn’t last forever, and we’re not talking about expiration dates: species go extinct, and therefore become unavailable to eat. Take the mastodon for instance. Times change, and more importantly, climate changes too.
Consider this list of some of the modern world's favorite foods that could, despite the food world's best efforts, no longer be available.
In the modern world, the food that is most closely associated with sunshine is orange juice. The industry used to run ads featuring Anita Bryant claiming that "breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine." But our descendants might have to live in a world where there are no citrus fruits of any kind. The fast-spreading disease called citrus greening is destroying crops across the globe. And science has not found a way to stop it.
A world without orange juice would be sad indeed. But we'd survive. But imagine a world without chocolate. Who would want to live in an era where the world's most beloved treat was extinct?
Well our great grandkids might have to. The cocoa beans from which chocolate comes are under attack on a variety of fronts, and any of them pose an existential threat to the crop. There are plant diseases like "witches' broom" and "frosty pod rot." There are human diseases like Ebola that threaten the growing regions. There's soaring demand driving prices higher and higher, pointing toward an era of hoarding. Some of the smartest companies in the chocolate industry think a major shortage is likely by 2020. And after that, things could get worse.
About the only thing that could make a chocolate extinction bearable would be if there were loads of other sweets around in which we could drown our sorrows. But don't plan on that. One of the most ancient of sweeteners - honey - also faces an existential threat.
For reasons that no one can explain, the entire honeybee population is suffering from a slew of biblical-level plagues. There are 22 viruses, two mite species and the wacky behavioral disorder known as Colony Collapse Disorder all laying siege to the bees that give us honey. It's possible that the food industry could find a way to save the bees, but it would have to stop fighting itself first.
Older Americans may well remember that bananas used to be different. They didn't taste or look exactly like they do now. That's because the bananas we used to eat are nearly extinct. The once ubiquitous strain of the fruit called the Gros Michel banana was all but wiped out by a soil fungus in the 1950s. The plants survived only in parts of Asia.
The banana industry responded by planting and selling a hardier variety called the Cavendish banana. That's the banana we eat today. And now it too is threatened by a soil fungus.
Oysters and scallops once covered large swaths of the shallow waters around North America. But that is changing - fast.
The reasons for the deaths are unclear, but the culprit may be the rising acid level in the ocean, which is a side effect of global warming. Higher acid levels destroy the shells of a wide variety of creatures, messing up the balance of ocean life.