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Episode Seventeen — Let’s Face the Music and Dance

Hungry? You may be after listening to Episode 17 of the Climate Stew Show. Yuri Ivanovich is back this time to talk about Avocados and wine. Learn about how climate is affecting production and ways that producers are responding. Also, we learn about food in the future. What will our descendants eat 150 years from now? Find out in our installment of That Day In Climate History.

While 2014 was only the 34th hottest year on record for the United States, globally it was a different story, and while we froze in the Lower 49, Alaska had a hot time of it.  Climate Stew is available on  iTunes,  StitcherSoundCloud, or Listen here  on our site. We are committed to producing 25 episodes of Climate Stew, then we will evaluate if there is interest in having us carry on with future episodes. Let us know that you listen AND if you want us to continue producing episodes.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY SPENCER MILLSAP

 

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Transcript

Intro

Ah, episode 17 of Climate Stew, welcome to our program. I am Peterson Toscano, and today we will once again look at food with our good friend Yuri from Dasha Deli. He will tell us about two luxury food items that are facing challenges because of the climate, challenges that some forward-thinking farmers are addressing. We also find out about what the world’s most popular meats will be in the future. But first, put on your mittens, or not, for the news.

News: One year in Anchorage

Our Climate news story today is about delicious icy cold winter weather. I don’t know about you, but I love the cold weather. Perhaps the chill blast harkens back to my childhood winters in Upstate New York with the thick ice on the window panes, crunchy snow covered driveways, and layers and layers of winter clothes with all the fabulous accessories of gloves and scarfs and hats. I have to say that wearing long underwear feels downright sexy. So I was thrilled with frigid cold that took hold of much of the North East and Mid-West US states last year and more recently.

With that gloriously cold winter, it was hard to comprehend that globally 2014 was the hottest year on record. But while we froze our buttocks off in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and even Tennessee, the folks in Alaska experienced an outright heatwave. Seems the weather patterns have wobbled. According to Maria La Ganga of the LA Times, “For the first time in recorded history, temperatures in Anchorage, (Alaska) did not drop below zero once in an entire calendar year.” How weird is that? She goes on to explain, “In comparison, Alaska’s largest city had 14 days below zero in the 2013 calendar year and 32 days in 2012. The average is 29 days.”

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The warmer weather is changing culture for the inhabitants of America’s largest state. It has affected skiing and dog sledding. If the warming trend continues, there is a growing fear in the fishing industry that pollack fish populations will dwindle. The warmer weather may also hinder oil companies from extracting petroleum in remote areas. In a very large state with barren lands and few roads, frozen ground covered in snow is not just pretty to look at, but also essential for transporting supplies and exploring new terrain to pump up the crude oil. We will see what 2015 has in store for the once frozen north.

 

Main: Yuri, Avocados, and Wine

Peterson: I am sitting in the crowded back office of the Dasha Deli in Little Odessa in Brooklyn. It is freezing outside, but in here with Yuri Ivanovich it is nice and toasty with the steam heat hissing and knocking and a platter of blintzes in front of me and a nice hot cup of tea. I’m meeting once again with Yuri to talk about food. Hello Yuri.

Yuri: Hello Peterson, Привет, You like the cold? Well today it feels like Russia, in April. OK today we are going to look at two foods, first the Avocados

P: MMmmmmm I love avocados. So tasty and healthy too. Remember you taught me how to make an amazing sandwich spread with avocado, almond butter, and dijon mustard. Good-bye mayo, hello heaven.

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Y: Well, there is a problem with the avocado.

P: Ugh, I know! My husband Glen is allergic to avocados. How tragic. As a result, we NEVER have any in the house and..

Y: Peterson, that is personal problem. What I am saying is that there is an actual problem with avocado production.

Avocados need a lot water to grow. How much water? To grow one pound of avocados you need 74 gallons of water.

P: And if one gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, that would be, uh, oh my god, 617 pounds of water to produce one pound of avocado.

Y: A lot of water, yes? Here is problem. Nearly all of the avocados that Americans eat come from California, where it has been bone dry with this awful drought. As a result, avocados prices may rise dramatically, so much so that last year Chipotle restaurant chain said they may one day no longer use avocados.

P: What are you saying? A world without avocados?

Y: Peterson, always a drama queen. No, there are plenty of avocados growing in Mexico. They are the largest producer in the world, which means avocado imports are on the rise.

P: And don’t they grow avocados in Florida too?

Y: Yes, California is known for the Hass Avocado, smaller with dark pebbly skin. You will see the larger smoother skinned ones grown in Florida and Mexico.

P: So Avocado production in California may be a thing of the past?

Y: Possibly, but unlikely. You see farmers are resilient people, they are developing new methods of growing the avocado, methods that do not need so much water. They are experimenting with planting avocado trees closer together so they grow UP instead of OUT, collectively they will use less water and may well produce more fruit. People are very adaptable. It just requires thinking ahead, like 20 years ahead.

Peterson Toscano and his husband, Glen Retief.

Peterson Toscano and his husband, Glen Retief with empty wine glasses.

P: Ok, so avocados are still a thing. cool. What is the other food?

Y: Well, it is a drink, the drink of the gods—wine! I know you like wine.

P: Yes, you introduced me to some great Australian wines.

Y: Well there is problem with wine?

P: What?!? Yuri come on man.

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Y: We must be honest here. Wine production is in the middle of crisis. Those of us in food industry we see the changes perhaps before the consumer and these warmer days are causing trouble. As you like to sing, “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes.” No, please keep them on. The problem is that the heat is rising globally. 2014 was hottest year on record, and wine production requires just the right temperature. In Australia, California, France, the increase heat means that wine grapes ripen too quickly. This has caused problems when suddenly all the grapes are ripe at the same time and have to be harvested quickly. You leave them on the vine too long and disaster, catastrophe.

P: I know that heat has been a problem in Australia.

Y: Yes, in fact in 2008 vineyards there were baked with 105 degree temperatures over 10 consecutive days. This is fine is you want to produce raisins in the sun, but it is a nightmare on Elm Street for wine. Not only has it made grape harvest more difficult, it is actually changing the flavor of the wine.

P: Is this mostly in Australia?

Y: No, in Europe too and California. Merlot and Chardonnay grapes are growing too fast.  This destabilizes the balance of acids and sugars. And also like with the avocados, the price may shoot up higher and higher.

P: This is depressing. A World without wine—Yuri, that is a dystopian future I simply cannot face.

Y: Petya/Петя (Peet-jya),You are such a worrier. Do you think humans are so stupid that we would let wine go extinct? Polar Bears, maybe. Wine? Never. Wine producers see the handwriting on the wall and are planning ahead. Brown Brothers which produces a lot of Australian wine has bought up land in Tasmania, an island about 150 miles away from the mainland. It used to be too cold to grow wine there, but times are changing. In Europe and North America wine production is going North into the UK, Sweden, and British Columbia in Canada. It will take time to develop these vineyards, and we may never have the exact tasting wines, but rest assured we will have wine.

P: Phew, so you are not worried.

Y: Listen Peterson, we live in strange times. Of course I worry, but I am not feeling hopeless. You do not yet know me too well, but in my life I have seen very hard times. In those hard times I also witnessed how people, humans, found ways to change, learn new tricks, face incredible odds to survive and even thrive. As the song says, There May Trouble Ahead… But we can face the music and still dance. Perhaps one day I will tell you my story.

P: Thank you Yuri, or better yet Spasibo

Y: You are learning Russian—How nice! до свидания

That Day in Climate History—World’s Favorite Meats

I am Timothy Meadows, It is Saturday January 12th, 2165 and time for That Day in Climate History. Our ancestors ate a lot of meat, and even today eating meat is still popular with some earthlings.

Though rarely eaten by the majority of people living in the United States, Canada, and much of Western Europe, Goat and Kid meat had always been popular throughout much of Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.  Through a series of events, goat regained the position it once held as the world’s most popular meat. First in 2032 a bird flu virus spread rapidly through chicken rearing factories. People went off chicken and sought an alternative. This coincided with the 2033 Peace Accord between the United States and Iran, opening the door for commerce and cultural exchange. Americans learned about Iranian cuisine, including Persian Goat Stew, after it was served at a state dinner at the White House. Celebrity chefs then began to add their own variations to the dish, and soon goat became a sought after specialty. Low calorie like chicken but with less saturated fat and more protein, goats have proven to be adaptable to a changing planet. Unlike sheep and cows that chew the cud and spew out methane, goats do not pollute and are excellent at clearing brush. Sheep pull up plants by the roots leading to soil erosion, but goats keep the soil intact.

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For nearly 100 years goat remained the world’s most popular meat until about 2127 when it fell to second place, pushed out by the popular and versitle grasshopper, which is a staple of our diet today. On This day in 2165, we remember That Day in Climate History

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Climate History is brought to you by Oscar Meyer, providing heart-healthy and tasty sandwich meats and hot dogs made only with organic grasshopper.

Closing

Now I am hungry! Thank you for joining me today for Ep 17 of Climate Stew. You can find a full transcript to today’s show, music credits, and links to background information. Our opening music is by Mark Chadwick, closing music by Poldoore. You also heard two different 1936 versions of “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” first performed by the Roy Fox Orchestra then sung in Polish by Adam Ashton. Climate Stew is an experiment in sound, science, culture, and social justice. We are committed to producing 25 episodes, then we will decide if we will continue production. Let us know that you listen and if you want us to carry on past episode 25. You can leave your comments or message us at Climate Stew dot com. Special thanks to Lori Kershner, Susie Morris, oh, and Joe Gee, who like Yuri’s radiators hisses and clanks while also warming the heart.

Peterson Toscano

Author: Peterson Toscano

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

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