Veggies and grains are becoming more like junk food, thanks to rising CO2.There’s been a long decline in the nutrition of our crops, often attributed to people breeding plants for higher yields rather than health benefits. But, as is often the case, climate change is making it worse.
An altered atmosphere means altered food, because plants suck up CO2 from the air and turn it into sugars, Helena Bottemiller Evich points outin a new piece for Politico. That means we’re getting more sugar per bite, and less protein, iron, and zinc. The global phenomenon puts hundreds of millions of people at risk for nutrient deficiencies.
It’s not just a problem for humans. Analysis of pollen samples going back to 1842 shows that protein concentration declined dramatically as atmospheric CO2 rose. That makes yet another suspect in the great bee-murder mystery.
“To say that it’s little known that key crops are getting less nutritious due to rising CO2 is an understatement,” Evich writes for Politico. “It is simply not discussed in the agriculture, public health, or nutrition communities. At all.”
The world is changing in so many ways that it’s nearly impossible to track them all — even when those changes happen right at the ends of our forks.
This story was originally published by Grist and is reproduced here as part of Climate Desk.