The climate crisis might ruin our chances at having a healthy diet.
According to a report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), European droughts from the Mediterranean shrink fresh fruit and vegetable supplies, which the UK is reliant on because they cannot be grown in the UK. This means these products will become more expensive and harder to get in the years to come.
Indeed, according to the report, in 2022 just over a quarter of UK food imports came from the Mediterranean region, mostly fresh fruit and vegetables.
Food that may be affected includes cauliflowers, broccoli and strawberries. It also includes nearly two-thirds of the cucumbers and tomatoes imported to the UK, and nearly a fifth of the overall supply of onions.
Meanwhile, more than half of the UK’s lemons and sweet peppers come from the Mediterranean, along with two-thirds of all oranges and 40 per cent of table grapes.
Gareth Redmond-King, the head of international programme at the Energy & Climate intelligence Unit, said: “As well as a climate crisis, we’re in a public health crisis too. Most of us already don’t eat enough fruit and veg, and often healthier diets already tend to cost more. As the impacts of climate change are likely to make the healthy food we should be eating more of even more expensive, it becomes even less accessible to the poorest in society.”
He added: “The heat we’ve seen in Europe this summer and in April would be all but impossible without climate change. These impacts will worsen as we continue to burn fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases, leaving the UK facing an unpleasant reality in a future of more shortages and higher costs. This should be a wakeup call about the vulnerability of our food supply chains to climate change. We can’t simply grow our way out of the problem by producing many of these foods in the UK.
“The only sure-fire way to avoid even worse and more dangerous impacts is to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C, and the only way to do that is to cut our emissions to net zero.”
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