Redlands High School
Are Some of Our Favorite Foods Going Extinct?
They say that everything in life is temporary, but can we say that even with respect to the food we eat? There are experts who would claim as much. Recently, many people have been debating whether or not foods like chocolate, bananas, honey, and hazelnuts will become extinct.
To start off, why might chocolate be endangered? West Africa is responsible for producing 70% of the world’s chocolate, but rising temperatures, less water, and a fungal disease called Frosty Pod Pot, have taken a toll on production. Also, we are consuming chocolate much faster than it is made. According to Barry Callebart and Mars Inc., two of the world’s biggest chocolate companies, in 2013, the world consumed 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it was produced.
As for bananas, the famous Panama disease that wiped out Gros Michel bananas in 1965 is threatening our Cavendish bananas. The Panama disease, also known as Tropical Race 4, is a fungus that attacks the roots and destroys the vascular system, causing the plant to immediately become dehydrated and wilt. And because Cavendish bananas are all genetically identical, the disease is rapidly wiping out entire plantations.
Third, the viability of hazelnuts is becoming a concern due to weather and blight. Turkey, for example, produces 70% of the world’s hazelnuts because of its moderate weather. However, recent hailstorms and frosts have been destroying hazelnut production significantly. Furthermore, People in North America are trying to grow the hazelnuts outside of Turkey, but they cannot evade the horrible Eastern Filbert Blight, a disease caused by a fungus that ultimately kills the trees. This has greatly troubled the company Nutella, the world’s number one hazelnut consumer.
Lastly, experts are concluding that our one and only natural sweetener, honey, is now endangered. A major reason for this is because bees are dying as a result of habitat destruction and pesticide use. Pesticides and chemicals can interfere with the bee’s abilities and memory, making it harder to find food and causing stress. All these things have been causing the Colony Collapse Disorder, in which all the worker bees, except the queen and young bees leave the hive, causing the colony to die.
So back to the initial question: are chocolate, bananas, hazelnuts, and honey at risk of disappearing? The answer is most likely both yes and no. Clearly, evidence suggests that many factors, most of them human, are a cause of serious concern with respect to the future of these foods. Consequently, prices will definitely rise, and some foods may approach extinction. Still, there is also hope as the scientists researching this problem may well come up with solutions and find new ways to save these foods. Nevertheless, this issue teaches us not to take the gifts nature gives us for granted. We need to realize that if we keep on creating waste and pollution instead of conserving, we will only hurt ourselves.
<Jonathan Lee, Redlands HS, 10th Grade