Warming temperatures may benefit a few animals and plants, but human-driven climate shifts threaten most of the species that humans depend on for food. Our Changing Menu is a detailed, lively overview of how the world’s most popular eats arrive to the table under more and more challenging conditions.
In “setting the table,” the book reveals the global food system’s extensive links with local environments and economies. It notes that 40% of the world’s work force is employed in food production, and that only seventeen plant and animal species constitute 75% of the world’s food supply. Food security, then, even for the world’s richest countries, is under siege.
The book’s concise analysis of climate science and its effects on water, soil, pests, pollinators, and pathogens is engaging and accessible. The focus turns to the myriad climate-driven problems faced by farmers, fishers, and on down the food supply chain, which are organized in a snappy menu format of some of the most common comestibles. From favorite alcoholic beverages to avocados and chicken, to beloved chocolate and coffee, the book articulates how foods have been traditionally made, how conditions are changing, and some innovative ways producers are adapting.
Sidebar examples personalize climate effects on local producers, covering the lobster woman who is offsetting her dwindling catch with a sideline oyster farm, and outbreaks of rodent-borne hantavirus that are ravaging Brazilians who live near expanding sugarcane fields.
The book’s exciting information about climate-smart farming and other innovations and technologies leads into a call for more investment in agricultural research. There’s no way around heeding its clarion call for tackling climate change on both macro- and micro-levels. Our Changing Menu concludes with important suggestions for ways consumers can make behavioral changes to nurture, rather than squander, Earth’s formerly bountiful resources.
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