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Episode 32 — There’s Something About Yuri

Climate Stew
Climate Stew
Episode 32 -- There's Something About Yuri
Climate Stew Host, Peterson Toscano at the mic

Climate Stew Host, Peterson Toscano at the mic

In Episode 32 of Climate Stew we hear the story of Yuri Ivanovich Petrov. He is a survivor who as a boy lived through the infamous 900 Days Siege of Leningrad during World War II. He experienced the worse possible hardships and developed inventive ways to survive. The lessons he learned during the greater crisis of his generation, can help give us hope and guidance for our own. So many years later Yuri is now concerned about climate change and especially how it affects food production. He LOVES talking about food and reveals some of the foods that are endangered on a changing planet.

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So glad you can join me for another episode of Climate Stew, where we find creative ways of talking climate change. I am  your host Peterson Toscano, a quirky queer comic performance artist with a concern for human rights. Today’s show is all about Yuri. Remember Yuri Ivanovich Petrov from previous episodes? He joins me on the program to talk about food. Well, Yuri is back. In fact, he is double back. He will do the news with me AND he appears in a future radio broadcast hosted by Timothy Meadows. It is a weird intersection of That Day in Climate History with Climate Stew. Actually it is a scene from my play, Does This Apocalypse Make Me Look Fat? I am exploring resiliency. Yuri’s personal story about being part of a great generation gives me hope for my own. But enough with the intro, let’s get to the news.


Our Climate News Story today is about food, specifically eight foods threatened by climate change. Ugh, I know. Joining us from Brooklyn to talk about food is Yuri Ivanovich Petrov owner of Dasha Deli. Hello Yuri

Previet, Peterson

Peterson: You and I have talked about foods before: Breakfast in Episode 7 then Avocados and Wine in Episode 17. What food news do you have for us today?

Yuri: Yes, I want to mention some foods that are facing challenges due to climate change. According to Twilight Greenaway of the Guardian Newspapers, here are the foods at risk.

A field of corn withers under triple-degree heat north of Wichita, Kansas in July 2012.

A field of corn withers under triple-degree heat north of Wichita, Kansas in July 2012.

Let’s start with corn. Or Maize as most people in the world call it. Too little water and too much heat reduces corn production. So what! less corn on cob? Less tortilla chips? Less popcorn at the movies. We can adapt. Yes, no? Ah, but you meat lovers ,much of this corn goes to feed beef and chicken, so less corn means more expensive meat products.

Peterson: Interesting Yuri, Lately I’ve been thinking of becoming a vegan again.

Yuri: If you can cook well, this is not a bad idea. You will need to know how to make beans in 100 different ways so you do not get bored. But wait there is a problem with beans too. Or so says a report  from El Centro Internacional  de Agricultura Tropical. Yes, Peterson, I do speak Spanish.

According to this report higher temperatures affect flowering and seed production in bean vines, reducing yields by as much as 25%. And in bean-growing regions, too much rain will likely destroy some crops as well.

But getting off of the land we Also have a problem with seafood. Too much pollution! Basically the oceans have heartburn from all the Carbon Dioxide. Fancy word is Acidification. This effects the shells of the young, tender oysters. Also most fish are slow to adapt to acidification, leading to a risk of species collapse. Tropical fish and lobsters are moving north in search of cooler habitats. Ah but this migration causes other problems. Tropical fish, for example, are more susceptible to parasites in warmer water.. Lobsters tend to eat everything in sight, so their move puts other species at risk.

Peterson: Ok, Yuri. I am gearing myself up for the worst news of all. Hit me with it.

Yuri: Ay Peterson, such a drama queen. Well in earlier episodes I talked about the strains on wine and coffee production. I hope you have recovered. Now, you have a sweet tooth, so please take a seat as I burst your pretty little sweet bubble.

Some of your favorite sweets are endangered. For instance, cherries, those lushes little fruits. While cherries need summer weather to grow, they also need to chill out during cooler nights. Warmer and wetter weather is disrupting production.

Endangered! Chocolate

Endangered! Chocolate

And Chocolate, now be strong.  Like coffee, chocolate is struggling these days. As a result, the price is rising. Cacao beans – the raw ingredient in chocolate – will become much less plentiful over the next few decades. The main problem is rising temperatures and falling water supplies. In the African nations of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, temperatures are predicted to rise by at least 2 degrees Celsius by 2050. This, in turn, will increase “evapotranspiration” in the cocoa trees. It is a fancy word for sweating. Evapotranspiration  causes them to lose more water to the air thus reducing their yield.

Peterson: Stop, Yuri, I cannot take any more

Yuri: Well gird your loins, because here it comes. I know you were just in Quebec Province where they put maple syrup on everything.

Peterson: Oh my God, Yuri, the Crepes, the ice-cream, the puddings, the duck, everything!.

Endangered! Maple Syrup

Endangered! Maple Syrup

Yuri: Well, Houston, we have a maple problem. Wetter winters and drier summers are putting more stress on sugar maple trees. In the winter, the trees need freezing temperatures to fuel the expansion and contraction process that they use to produce the necessary sap. Rising temperatures are already causing sap to flow earlier: according to some estimates, this may push up maple production by up to a month by the end of the next century.

Maple syrup production will also need to move North, so there in Pennsylvania, you will see the yields dwindle.

Peterson: Yuri, don’t you ever have good news.

Yuri: Yes, I do. I  made for you a cherry blintz. For you I will drown it in maple syrup and serve it with a big cup of hot cocoa.

Peterson: Thank you, Yuri, I really don’t know how you always stay positive.

Yuri: I have a story. My own story. Perhaps it is time you hear it for yourself.

Main Story; Yuri



The Siege of Leningrad

MEADOWS: I am Timothy Meadows. Welcome back to Survivor, the world’s longest running television program where we are doing a countdown of the top 20 survivor generations of all time.

We travel back in time two hundred years to highlight an extraordinary generation. During the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s this generation faced extreme conditions through regional droughts, a global financial collapse, and devastating world war. Because they were willing to make the greatest of sacrifices, their offspring honored them with the title, ‘The Greatest Generation.’ Still most people do not know about the atrocities faced by the citizens of Leningrad, what we now call Petersburg, Russia.

Adolf Hitler rapidly conquered and annexed nations then set his sights on Moscow. But before He could take the Soviet capital, he first needed to capture Leningrad, (GESTURE) the Venice of the North, seat of fine culture and the manufacturing center of the USSR.

While never ultimately succeeding in invading the city, Nazi forces surrounded it for nearly three years. Four times a day they rained down bombs (GESTURE) in their devastating blitzkrieg assaults. The Siege of Leningrad with the death of over one million citizens became known as the infamous “900 Days.”


  • 900 days–872, I was there, boy, Leningrad
  • Stalin looked down on Leningrad, didn’t care enough about what happened to us. Stalin didn’t think we were good Communists, never trusted Lenigraders, so they treated us like second class citizens.

MEADOWS: Yuri Ivanovich Petroff, born Aug 23, 1930 had just turned 11 years old when the siege began in Sept 1941. We share with you archival footage from an interview conducted in August of 2001.

216 01.10.1942 Трое мужчин хоронят умерших в дни блокады в Ленинграде. Волково кладбище. Борис Кудояров/РИА Новости

216 01.10.1942 Трое мужчин хоронят умерших в дни блокады в Ленинграде. Волково кладбище. Борис Кудояров/РИА Новости The 900 Days Siege of Leningrad


  • fat boy, birthday, Nazi’s attacked–Hitler’s belated birthday gift.
  • Nazi’s were very consistent–four times a day. air raid sirens, 1st , metronome: Soon all we talked about was food
  • Badev Warehouse. rations began–disgusting bread w/ floor sweepings & linseed oil.
  • began career. Siege Cuisine. glue and shoe leather, dogs and cats, cannibalism–you are what you eat.

MEADOWS With bitter cold temperatures averaging 22 degrees below zero, no gas, electricity, or food supplies, along with the daily bombing raids, the citizens of Leningrad encountered a cruel and destructive winter. In January of 1942 over 100,000 people perished. By February 20,000 died per day. While the citizen’s starved and froze, the city of Leningrad burned.


  • Fires everywhere. bombs, fires to stay warm.
  • Father dead through shelling at the front. Mother worked in factory with woman, dug anti-tank trenches, waited on line for rations. I helped by getting water, bartering furs for food, trading whatever I could.
  • On February 22 of that winter I turned the corner onto a street and knew immediately what had happened.
 Poet Olga Bergholz

Poet Olga Bergholz

MEADOWS That winter siege nearly destroyed the city and its emaciated inhabitants. But miraculously many also survived. Speaking of that desperate first winter of the 900 Day Siege poet Olga Bergholz wrote:

“That winter death looked straight into our eyes and stared long, without faltering.  It wanted to hypnotize us, like a boa constrictor hypnotises its intended victim, stripping him of his will and subjugating him.  But those who sent us so much death miscalculated.  They underestimated our voracious hunger for life.”

MEADOWS: By the spring of 1942 those who survived the winter found new strength and purpose and harnessed their will to survive.


  • friendly collectives got me through,
  • eating leaves, cleaned city, planting gardens,  symphony, university students dissertation. We refused to be defeated.
  • great generation?


In January of 1944 after nearly 900 days the Nazi forces ended their assault and returned defeated back to a chaotic Germany. Reflecting on his experience outside of the city of Leningrad a German soldier with the Nazi forces wrote: “It had a slow but powerful effect on us.  The realization began to dawn that we would never take Leningrad.  But something else started to happen. We began to see that there was something stronger than starvation, fear and death – the will to stay human.”

Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion of our program as we share with you the greatest survivor generation of them all.


Thank you for listening to Climate Stew. I hope you enjoyed this unconventional program.You just heard a scene from my play, Does This Apocalypse Make Me Fat? I believe we can learn much from history, lessons from our ancestors that will aid us as we face the climate crisis. This is not our first rodeo.

You can see a transcript of today’s show, lots of links, and music credits over at Climate Stew dot com. If you want to see me present live, I will travel to the UK and Iceland in August and September. You can see my schedule at climate stew dot com or over at my site Peterson Toscano dot com. Special thanks to Rachel Mark, Jane Brazell, oh, and Joe G, who I believe eats a vegan diet, well kinda. he eat animals that were vegan. Be well and come back for more stew soon.


Author: Peterson Toscano

Peterson Toscano is a quirky queer Quaker concerned about Climate Change. His website is

This post has 4 Comments

  1. Sherri Michalovic on August 11, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Thank you for making the connection between war survivors and resiliency, which applies to our actions regarding climate change.

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