Foods we may not have around much longer

Not to sound too pessimistic or anything, but we thought we ought to let you know that everything you love is going to die. OK, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration (or not, depending on how existentialist you want to get with this) but it's still fair to say that a great deal of your favorite foods are under severe threat. And we're not just talking about animals being hunted to extinction — things you never thought could disappear, such as honey, wine, potatoes and even chocolate could, in a matter of decades, be nothing more than a distant and pleasant memory.

Thanks mostly to the creeping spectre of climate change (plus a few pandemics and extinction events to help us along the way), these foods really may not be around for very much longer. Make the most of them while you can.

Chocolate

Later in this article, you'll get to hear about a number of animal species that are at risk of fading into oblivion, which, of course, is all very sad. But take it from us — it's okay to be saddest about this one. Chocolate, that friend in times of woe, that last-minute Christmas gift for distant relatives — that wonderful, wonderful cure for any sweet tooth — is disappearing.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, climate change could kill of the cacao plant, which is the basis for chocolate as we know it, by 2050. The Earth's rising temperatures will likely force cacao farms to find cooler homes up in the mountains of West Africa, which are mostly unsuitable for the cultivation of the crop. The NOAA predicts that 89.5 percent of the land currently used to grow and harvest cacao will be unsuitable for that use by the 21st century's midpoint.

Avocados

It may come as no surprise, of course, to find that global demand for avocados has never been higher, but this has put quite a strain on the cultivation of the fruit. California, where most of Earth's avocados are grown, is susceptible to severe dry spells and droughts — the problem, essentially, is that they grow in tropical environments but are being grown in a desert.

As every new year seems to be the warmest recorded in California, there can be no doubt that things are worsening. As the effects of climate change worsen, it's not beyond the edge of reason to assume that the region will soon become totally unsuited for growing avocados.

Coffee

The future's scythe is relentless and uncaring. You've lost your chocolate (bad!), you've lost your avocados (disastrous) and, at the end of it all, you won't be able to calm yourself down with a nice cup of coffee.

Yep, a 2012 study by British and Nigerian researchers suggested that, by 2080, 70 percent of the world's supply of coffee beans could be wiped out. By the same year, their best case scenario saw the amount of land capable of growing coffee diminishing by 38 percent — and their worst case situation had that number rise as high as 100 percent. Take into account deforestation, a real and worsening problem, and those numbers begin to appear conservative.

Peanuts

Good ol' climate change, eh? Won't even spare the peanuts. Shifts in temperatures in the future are likely to worsen the droughts which are already devastating crop yields, and peanuts — which require a very stable environment to grow — are at serious risk of being damaged as a result.

With peanut crops, too little rain prevents the seeds from germinating and growing and too much heat can scorch the shoots. Too much rain, however, causes mold and other diseases which can kill the crops entirely. Either way, it means bad news for peanut lovers: at the very best, you're likely to find prices increases in the coming decades. At the worst, you're probably looking at near-extinction for the beloved nut.

Honey (and a whole lot of other stuff, too)

The growing danger of the extinction of bees is a well-documented one, and is, according to Global Research, "perhaps the biggest foreboding danger of all facing humans." The extinction of the bee, which is unfathomably crucial to the production of fruit and vegetables, would have devastating, potentially apocalyptic results on the human population of Earth.

The end of honey is just another consequence of this. Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder — the exact cause of which is unknown — has led to 30 percent of the United States' bee population disappearing in only five years, with nearly a third of all colonies in the U.S. perishing entirely. Naturally, the production of honey has lessened significantly, too: California's honey production fell by nearly half in roughly the same amount of time.

If the bees go, honey goes, too. That's not great news. But, on top of that, you can make a safe bet that a great number of other things are going to go with them — and that's far, far worse.

Bananas

The threat to the cultivation of bananas is quite a unique one. It began with Panama Disease, a fungal disease which originated in Central America and was responsible for the extinction of the Gros Michel banana. Today, it's a different strain of Panama Disease, called Tropical Race 4, another fungal disease which cropped up in Malaysia in the '90s. It only takes a single clamp of contaminated dirt for it to spread, and anything (from wind, to cars, to water) can carry it. TP4 spread across South-East Asia and has reached as far as Australia and Africa, directly threatening the world's supply of bananas.

As of January 2016, the disease had cost a single company in Mozambique the lives of 230,000 plants, with 15,000 more being destroyed per week. If it worsens, the effects on local ecosystems and economies will be catastrophic. At best, it will likely mean the end of the Cavendish banana, just as Panama Disease previously saw the extinction of the Gros Michel variant. Throw in the fact that the Cavendish is itself supplanting a wide array of smaller varieties of banana, and you could be looking at the end of the fruit as a whole.

Wine as you know it

Losing wine as we know it may not be quite as terrible as losing, say, all of our crops, but let's not pretend it would be anything other than disastrous. You might have guessed the culprit, here — yes, grapes could be yet another casualty of global warming. The grapes used for wine tend to be delicate, and can only grow in certain regions around the world. As the effects of climate change grow worse, however, the ideal conditions needed to produce good wine (known as the terroir) will diminish. 

By 2050, it's predicted that the world's warmer wine regions (such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, southern France, Australia, California and South Africa) will lose the ability to produce grapes. So you can say goodbye to your Bordeaux, your Rioja, your Napa Valley wines — and hello to English, Danish, Swedish and Finnish wines, as those countries slowly grow warmer.

Oranges

Oranges, which thrive in the heat and humidity of Florida, may find a threat in climate change, but there are more immediate and problematic dangers to face down in the present. The worst of these is known as huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease. Carried by a small insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid, it causes oranges to sour and contort to the point of total inedibility, and so far there is no cure.

As a result of the disease, orange prices have surged around the world as crop yields have dropped by as much as 14 percent. As things get worse, expect fresh oranges to become less of a staple in our diets and more and more of an exotic rarity.

Chickpeas

The key factor in the threat to chickpeas comes from the staggering statistic behind how they're made: it takes no fewer than 76 gallons of water to produce a single can. Because they're made in hot countries, which often suffer from droughts and have insufficient water supplies, their chickpea output has already begun to drop over recent years.

As water becomes more of a scarcity in the future — and trust us, it will; the World Wildlife Fund claims that, by 2025, two-thirds of the world will face water shortages — it may come to pass that these countries simply find it too wasteful and inefficient to continue to produce and export chickpeas. And sure, we hear you say, it wouldn't be such a huge loss. They're only chickpeas, aren't they?

Well, tell that to hummus.

Potatoes

Potatoes are faced with quite an alarming number of dangers in the years to come. Climate change, of course, is an issue — potatoes thrive in temperate conditions, and global warming in potato-growing regions will likely decrease crop yields significantly. Potatoes also require a great amount of water to grow effectively, so reduced rainfall or droughts will likely devastate land required to grow them. Finally, diseases and pests are expected to spread as climate change becomes more of a problem.

In the end, according to a report from the University of California, you can expect as many as seven species of potato to go extinct, with global patch sizes expected to fall by as much as 37 percent, and patch numbers to fall by 34 percent.

Fish

This one probably isn't much of a surprise — it's hardly news that many species of fish are on the verge of extinction thanks to a wide array of issues affecting their ecosystems. Back in 2006, the BBC reported that wild sea fish as a whole were at risk of total extinction within 50 years, due to overfishing and pollution.

On a more specific level, however, you've also got a great deal of fish currently consumed by humans that are at even more immediate risk of being wiped out. These include wild eel, haddock, Atlantic cod, sea bass, sturgeon and bluefin tuna — the total collapse of the latter being pretty much imminent. Fish farming can go some way toward protecting these species, but without a serious change in the way humanity consumes fish and treats our oceans, many of them are going to disappear very, very soon.

American Maple syrup

And then, after all the potatoes and the wine and the chocolate and the avocados have disappeared, we shall, at last, lose the maple syrup. According to Timothy Perkins, director of the Proctor Maple Research Center, the maple syrup season now begins eight days earlier than it did 40 years ago and ends 11 days earlier. Thanks to a cocktail of warmer summers, droughts and extreme weather caused by (you guessed it) climate change, less and less syrup will be able to be produced every year.

One more positive outcome of all this is that the maple syrup industry in Canada is likely to thrive as sugar-maple forests migrate northwards to escape the heat. So at least someone's winning out of all this.