Most people have heard that surging prices at the grocery store are caused by supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, but some experts suggest that climate change is also driving inflation, and they've coined a term for it — "heatflation."
"This is putting an enormous cyclical pressure on the environment, on the producers, on the taxpayers, and it's simply not going to be sustainable," Jennifer Molidor, with the Center For Biological Diversity, told CBSLA.
Heatwaves across the world are fueling fires, incinerating crops. Floods are decimating harvests and water hungry plants and animals are not surviving to their former prime.
"Cows are being sent to market early. This means they are skinnier than usual. They don't have time to be fattened up," Molidor explained.
Food industry analyst Phil Lempert said there's also a human element to this growing problem.
"And frankly, we've got the human factor. As it gets hotter, we have less laborers who want to go out into the field and pick," he said.
The same goes for ranch hands and delivery folks who suffer from heat-related illnesses. All of these things slow down food production, causing many to wonder what can be done to avoid the costs of "heatflation."
"Before you go to the supermarket, number one, go through your cupboard, your refrigerator and make a shopping list and stick to it," Lempert said," and also, don't overbuy."
The advice sounds simple enough, but experts have said that Americans waste up to 40% of their groceries. They also suggested that people take the time to shop around.
"Go to a drug chain for milk," said Lempert. "Typically, that's sold less expensive than at supermarkets. Go to Dollar Stores."
In the long, though, experts said big changes need to come from the top, with federal policies that require production of more sustainable, nutrient rich foods. They also said that change needs to come from within.
"We're going to need policies that understand the sustainable agriculture, meaning a significant reduction in meat and dairy," said Molidor, "and people don't want to hear that. But dietary shift is one of the best avenues that we have for mitigating climate change."
for more features.