I arrived in Australia in February 2011, fresh faced and ready to explore the land of plenty. I dropped my jaw and backpack when I was asked to pay $9.50 for two bananas. They weren’t international prize-winning bananas, they were just two standard bananas.
Cyclone Yasi had ripped through north Queensland earlier that month, wiping out three-quarters of Australia’s banana crop.
Five years later, avocado eaters tracked the price of the breakfast staple like Wall Street traders as a single fruit reached $7.
These are just two examples of how Mother Earth is putting us back in our place.
We can expect more food price spikes to come as the world warms and heatwaves, bushfires and storms intensify.
Summer barbies will get pricier, as the cost of farmed salmon, beef and wine are predicted to rise.
After a protein fix? Carbon dioxide reduces the protein content of some grains like our daily loaf.
Extreme weather is also shaking up how our food gets from the farm to our plate.
Like crops, highways and railroads are at risk of damage.
During the 2011 Queensland floods, several towns were cut off for up to two weeks, preventing food top ups.
There is generally less than one-month’s supply of non-perishable food and less than five days’ supply of perishable food in the supply chain at any one time – we’re extremely vulnerable.
It’s becoming more difficult to ignore Mother Earth’s warning signs. But we can reason with her.
Supporting our farmers, who work tirelessly to feed us, is a good start.
Eating more plant-based foods, buying the ugly fruit and eating at home more often will also help to make our food supply a sustainable one.
Dr Sinead Boylan is a public health nutritionist at the University of Sydney.
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