Cli­mate change's gas­tro­nom­i­cal ef­fects

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

The Brokpa trib­als of Ladakh, who claim to have been ve­g­ans for some 2,200 years of their ex­is­tence, are slowly opt­ing an al­ter­na­tive diet that in­cludes dairy prod­ucts, eggs and meat—thanks to cli­mate change.

The Brokpa live in the vil­lages of Dha, Hanu, Beema, Garkon and Dhardik on the Line of Con­trol with Pak­istan. The to­tal pop­u­la­tion of the vil­lages is about 1,700 res­i­dents.

Cli­mate change has made sum­mer and win­ter warmer. Records show a rise of 1ÊC in the min­i­mum tem­per­a­ture dur­ing win­ter and 0.5 ÊC in peak sum­mer at Brokpa vil­lages be­tween 1973 and 2008.

As a re­sult, pests have in­creased, lead­ing to a sig­nif­i­cant drop in the Brokpa's tra­di­tional crops, forc­ing them to change their life­style.

The tribe tra­di­tion­ally grew bar­ley, pota­toes, ap­ples and apri­cots, while wheat was in­tro­duced later. Due to the rise in tem­per­a­ture, the Brokpa now also cul­ti­vate cher­ries, plums, grapes, to­mato, cab­bage, cau­li­flower, gourd, cap­sicum, beans and peas de­spite the high al­ti­tude where they live.

The milder win­ter has caused pests— in­clud­ing fruit flies, cod­dling moth, yel­low rust, green and black-headed worms—to sur­vive and even thrive.

Thus, while va­ri­ety in Brokpa agri­cul­ture has in­creased, pro­duc­tion has dropped, due to pests. This is one of the rea­sons, along­side mi­gra­tion, that meat and dairy con­sump­tion is be­com­ing com­mon.

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