Global warming affects many aspects of our lives, one of which is the food we eat. Changes are already occurring in fruits, vegetables, and other crops that are sensitive to subtle changes in climate.
Favorite Foods Affected
People in Japan are especially worried about the effects of global warming on rice, the staple food. According to research, farmers have observed some problems in the brown rice crop, such as all or part of the rice turning a milky white color or developing cracks in the grains. These problems are thought to appear when temperatures are too high during the growth period, and are believed to be linked to global warming.
Mikan (mandarin oranges) are a favorite winter fruit among Japanese people, but recently farmers have been finding some mikan with their skin separated from their flesh. This phenomenon is said to be caused by high temperatures and heavy rainfall in the period after the fruit has ripened. Other effects that have been reported include pale color in grapes and sunburn marks on apples.
According to a survey carried out by the Japanese National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, people have become aware of the effects of global warming all over Japan.
Rising Temperatures Allow Blood Oranges to Grow
In order to reduce these effects as much as possible, Japanese researchers are working to develop high-temperature-resistant varieties of crops and new cultivation technologies.
Another initiative, meanwhile, actually seeks to take advantage of global warming. Uwajima City in Ehime Prefecture has long been a major center for the growing of unshu mikan (satsumas), a variety of orange that is well known in Japan, but now farmers there have also begun growing Italian Tarocco blood oranges, which are distinguished by their bright red flesh. You may sometimes see them at Italian restaurants.
Over the last few decades, the average annual temperature of Uwajima has risen by 1 degree to over 17 degrees Celsius. The city's climate now resembles that of the Italian island of Sicily, which is well known for its harvest of blood oranges. The popularity of Japanese-grown Tarocco oranges is growing rapidly, because they are fresher than imported oranges and remain quite rare.