Plain Vanilla Fail: A Matter Of Climate Change, Population Growth, & Clear-Cutting?

foam/CC BY 2.0
Vanilla plant, with unripe pods.

Pun-filled coverage of a world wide vanilla bean shortage is luscious desert for local, regional, and national news outlets. Here's a typical piece: Vanilla Shortage: Rocky Road For Ice Cream Prices. Just why vanilla bean production is failing, and where it is failing, sufficient to drastically increase prices all over the world, get no mention. Heaven forbid, something not-cute be looked into and reported on.

Vanilla origins.
The Vanilla orchid comes from southern Mexico and MesoAmerica, where it is naturally insect pollinated. Via Wikipedia:

There are currently three major cultivars of vanilla grown globally, all of which derive from a species originally found in Mesoamerica, including parts of modern day Mexico.[5] The various subspecies are Vanilla planifolia (syn. V. fragrans), grown on Madagascar, Réunion, and other tropical areas along the Indian Ocean; V. tahitensis, grown in the South Pacific; and V. pompona, found in the West Indies, Central, and South America.[6] The majority of the world's vanilla is the V. planifolia variety, more commonly known as Bourbon vanilla (after the former name of Réunion, Île Bourbon) or Madagascar vanilla, which is produced in Madagascar and neighboring islands in the southwestern Indian Ocean, and in Indonesia.[7][8]

Just Another Hominidae Sundae.
Most vanilla production is now based in Indonesia and Madagascar, where hand pollination by human workers is required. This is why real vanilla, not the synthetic ester kind, is expensive. Recent 'issues' may have take 'output' out of the hands of workers, however.

As reported by UN Food Programme, Madagascar has been blasted with floods, cyclones, and severe drought (weather extremes).

There are similar problem in Indonesia, made worse by growing global demand for rainforest wood and palm oil, and the related Indonesian deforestation. Here's an example:

Erratic weather has exacerbated food insecurity in one of Indonesia's driest regions, leaving farmers and families hoping for the best as October's planting season approaches. (..) According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), ongoing deforestation, a leading cause of flooding, is largely to blame for the rainfall fluctuation that TTS and TTU residents describe. NTT province has one of the highest concentrations of deforestation in Indonesia, according to the report

Elsewhere, celebrities contnue to be vulnerable to excessive weight gain: an issue that is both a worry for Hollywood and New York doctors and an intense fascination for fans. Perhaps eating less high quality vanilla ice cream will help all concerned.

See...there is good in everything. Or as my Gramma used to say...God has his reasons.

Tags: Food Security

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