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ClimateAi models suggest Thanksgiving staples could be at risk

Posted at 5:48 PM, Dec 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 13:53:53-05

If you felt like the price for Thanksgiving food was more expensive this year, you're not wrong.

There are a lot of factors that impact what you pay at the store like inflation and global disrupters to the food chain like the war in Ukraine.

Another factor we're dealing with is climate change.

Will Kletter works with ClimateAi which uses artificial intelligence to forecast the impact of climate change on food and agriculture.

"If I think about sort of the average Thanksgiving feast for a family, we see price increases by up to 25% since 2019," Kletter said.

ClimateAi's models suggest severe heat put both cranberries and sweet potatoes at risk in their key production regions.

Wisconsin, for example, is a big hub for cranberries.

"We've seen just this past year in 2023, extreme heat taking yields down by 5%," Kletter said. "And we would see that trend as kind of indicative of a new normal."

However, ClimateAi's models also predict states like Massachusetts and Oregon might experience a 5-8% increase in yields, with reduced frost risk.

This means it may be possible to keep yields similar to where they are now, as long as farmers and producers are willing to shift where they grow the crop.

Kletter says it's also smart to start breeding crops now that are more adaptive to a changing climate.

Otherwise, Kletter says our thanksgiving staples could change based off of what can successfully grow in the coming decades.