By David I. Gustafson, Adjunct Research Faculty at Washington State University
This article is part of a series, Climate Friendly Fruit & Veggies, highlighting work from the Fruit & Vegetable Supply Chains: Climate Adaptation & Mitigation Opportunities project, a collaborative research study co-led by investigators at the University of Florida and the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute. Other collaborators include researchers at the University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, the International Food Policy Research Institute, the World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services, and Washington State University. This project seeks to identify and test climate adaptation and mitigation strategies in fruit and vegetable supply chains.
It’s been a long, hot, dry, fiery, smoky summer in much of the American West. That’s where the U.S. gets most of its fruits and vegetables, including two widely-consumed processed products that some might not immediately associate with this category: French fries and pasta sauce. Most of those fries start as potatoes grown in the arid inland parts of the Columbia River Basin, and nearly all of that red sauce starts as tomatoes grown in the currently parched Central Valley of California. Given how hot and dry it has been this year, you might wonder how supplies of popular foods such as these are going to fare in the future, as climate change continues to increase the odds of even hotter growing conditions and impacts availability of water for irrigation.
In previous articles we reported on the remarkable resilience we found in these supply chains, a surprising opportunity for certain food preparation methods to significantly reduce carbon footprints, and the massive role that consumer waste plays in their overall environmental impact. Now our research team has published a new study in Nature Food where we examined the supply chains for French fries and pasta sauce in great detail, using a unique, integrated approach that we developed for exploring climate adaptation and mitigation opportunities in fruit and vegetable supply chains. Continue reading