Imagine this: It’s lunch time, and you take a bite out of your juicy, delicious burger. You reach into the drive-thru bag for some of those salty, crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside-french fries, but come up instead with…banana chips?
It could happen. But is our favorite salty side dish endangered? Not exactly, but climate scientists are warning that as the planet’s temperatures increase, potatoes, which prefer cooler climates to grow in, might be edged out by warmer temperature crops like those from the banana family, especially in developing countries.
The scientists behind the news were asked to examine what effects a warming climate would have on the worlds most important agricultural commodities. The found that people in the developing world will likely have to adapt what they eat as crops like potatoes, but also, rice, corn and wheat—the main source of calories for many families who struggle to find enough to eat—suffer from the warmer temperatures and a decrease in land available to cultivate them.
Dr. Philip Thornton, who helped author the report, said that bananas and plantains may be a good substitute for potatoes in certain locations. “It’s not necessarily a silver bullet, but there may be places where as temperatures increase, bananas might be one option that small-holders could start to look at,” he said.
It’s happened before, said Bruce Campbell, program director of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research group. He noted the adoption by Africans to eating rice, which wasn’t typical there just a few decades ago. Heifer has also helped in similar situations, providing camels to the Maasai people who lost their cattle to drought.
It may not be ideal, but it’s just one way people will have to cope with a changing world.