Come Rain or Shine

Mike Hoffmann on Our Changing Menu: How Climate Change Affects the Foods We Grow

August 03, 2022 USDA Southwest Climate Hub & DOI Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center Season 3 Episode 8
Come Rain or Shine
Mike Hoffmann on Our Changing Menu: How Climate Change Affects the Foods We Grow
Show Notes Transcript

We interview Dr. Mike Hoffmann about climate change and the foods we love and need. Dr. Hoffmann is one of the authors of Our Changing Menu, a book published in 2021 about a complicated and nuanced topic – how climate change is impacting our food supply.


Relevant Links & Promo Codes:

Our Changing Menu website: https://www.ourchangingmenu.com/ 

Promo code for 40% off the book if ordered from Cornell Press: 09SAVE

Promo code for discount on eCornell Climate Change Leadership course: CORNELL100


If you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider rating us and/or leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts, Podcast Addict, or Podchaser Thanks!

Follow us on Twitter @RainShinePod

Never miss an episode! Sign up to get an email alert whenever a new episode publishes (http://eepurl.com/hRuJ5H)

Have a suggestion for a future episode? Please tell us!

Come Rain or Shine affiliate links:
DOI Southwest CASC:
https://www.swcasc.arizona.edu/
USDA Southwest Climate Hub:
https://www.climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/southwest
Sustainable Southwest Beef Project:
https://southwestbeef.org/

[00:00:00] Emile Elias: Welcome to Come Rain or Shine, podcast of the USDA Southwest Climate Hub 

[00:00:05] Sarah LeRoy: and the USGS Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, or Southwest CASC. I'm Sarah LeRoy Science Applications and Communications Coordinator for the Southwest CASC. 

[00:00:17] Emile Elias: And I'm Emile Elias, Director of the Southwest Climate Hub. Here we highlight stories to share the most recent advances in climate science, weather and climate adaptation and innovative practices to support resilient landscapes and communities. 

[00:00:33] Sarah LeRoy: We believe that sharing some of the most innovative forward thinking and creative climate science and adaptation will strengthen our collective ability to respond to even the most challenging impacts of climate change in one of the hottest and driest regions of the world.

[00:00:55] The contents of this podcast are for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as endorsement for any of the products, technologies, or strategies discussed.

[00:01:10] Emile Elias: Today we talk with Dr. Mike Hoffmann about climate change and the foods we love and need. Dr. Hoffman is one of the authors of Our Changing Menu, a book published in 2021 about a complicated and nuanced topic. How climate change is impacting our food supply. The book simplifies the topic, providing a background on our food supply and describing how changes are impacting each part of our menu from libations to dessert and coffee.

[00:01:41] The authors also present solutions that everyone can play a role in. Dr. Hoffmann transitioned to professor emeritus in 2020, after 30 years in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Addressing the greatest challenge of our time, climate change, has been his focus for many years. He now dedicates all his time to this grand challenge and often helps people understand and appreciate what's happening through food.

[00:02:14] Dr. Hoffmann, welcome and thanks so much for speaking with us today. 

[00:02:19] Mike Hoffmann: I'm glad to be here, Emile. Thank you. 

[00:02:22] Emile Elias: Thanks. I read your book in two days. It was fascinating and accessible and because food is something that we all need and we love it feels like a very personal topic. So why did you decide to focus on the food system with regard to climate change?

[00:02:41] Mike Hoffmann: Well, let me come back with a question for you. Have you eaten yet today? 

[00:02:45] Emile Elias: I have, I had sushi. 

[00:02:47] Mike Hoffmann: Okay. There's a story right there. We won't go into sushi, but 99% of it comes from California and think about the drought. So food is about as relevant to everyone's daily life, as you can imagine. I mean, we use economic challenges, loss of biodiversity, et cetera, human health, but we thought food was a perfect topic to tell this story, because it's part of our cultures, part of our family histories, we encounter it multiple times a day. I thoroughly enjoy those social lubricants that are available. They're also called alcoholic beverages and many others do the same thing. So, you know, melting glaciers are too far away from most people. And when you say the year 2100, well, I'm not gonna be here.

[00:03:40] But we eat every day. So again, food is about, to me, the best messenger we can use to tell the climate change story. 

[00:03:50] Emile Elias: Absolutely. It's a really personal topic. The book itself is organized in three major sections. The first section is background, which is focused on the science. The second focus is on the menu.

[00:04:01] So it's organized around specific courses, which I thought was brilliant. And then the book focuses on solutions and we thought it would be fun to ask our questions in the same order. So starting with the background, let's start with the food system because that's not something that people have a broad and deep knowledge of.

[00:04:22] I mean, I was surprised to learn that the distance food travels has increased by about 20% in the last few decades. So as background, can you give our listeners a high level overview of the global food system and how the food supply chain can both affect and be affected by climate change? 

[00:04:42] Mike Hoffmann: Well, the supply chain is pretty amazing.

[00:04:45] Most of us don't understand where our food comes from. And let me just say sesame from Tanzania, how many know that? And to get it to the table requires someone to harvest it, transportation, potentially storage, processing, it gets to the wholesaler to the retailer. And it's coming from Africa to start or natural vanilla from Madagascar.

[00:05:12] So it's far away. I already mentioned, but does everyone realize sushi rice, you know, 99% comes from California? Avocados, mostly from Mexico, blueberries in the wintertime for us come from Peru, Brazil nuts? Nope. Bolivia is the main producer of Brazil nuts and fish sticks. The US Fishing Fleet captures about 1 billion dollars worth of Pollock in the north sea ship them to China, where they're made into fish sticks and filets, and they're imported into the US.

[00:05:47] That's one of the more complicated routes involved in the supply chain. And it's fun. When you're in a grocery store, look at the fruit and the vegetables and just see where they're from all over the world. And we're fortunate most of us can access these foods from all over the place. At the same time, the supply chain obviously contributes to climate change.

[00:06:08] The biggest contributor in the supply chain is agriculture and changes in land use, but then add all of that, the storage, the retail, the processing, etc. That's another sec, those sectors contribute to climate change. And what's really interesting about the story is climate change is having amazing effects on the food.

[00:06:25] And we'll get into that, but it's everything from the nutritional quality to price, to availability. So it's a really, I don't like the word interesting because a lot of people hear this and they're shocked, but it's an interesting story to tell. 

[00:06:39] Emile Elias: Great. So you spoke about some of our foods coming from Peru and Bolivia and going through like complicated, long distances and complicated processes to reach us at our local grocery store.

[00:06:51] I'm wondering how the local food movement might fit into this and your thoughts on the local food movement. 

[00:06:57] Mike Hoffmann: I am frequently asked this question. What about local food? My response almost all the time is, it's more important to consider what you eat than where it comes from. And I'm specifically referring to red meat, decreasing our consumption of red meat.

[00:07:15] And what we say is treated as a delicacy, not a staple, so we can still eat red meat. I do. So I'm not gonna be a hypocrite and tell everybody they can't, but then once we're through that part of the topic? Yes. Locally grown. I think it helps build a community. It helps those of us purchasing goods, maybe at the local farmer's market, understand where it's coming from, meet the person who's actually growing it for us.

[00:07:42] So I think it, it has other social benefits along with, in most cases and also a much lower greenhouse gas footprint. But again, It's more important to consider what you eat than where it comes from. 

[00:07:55] Sarah LeRoy: Thanks, Mike. And thanks so much for joining us today to talk about this very, I like the word interesting, topic.

[00:08:02] So the book has fairly science focused chapter on how climate change is fundamentally altering food. So focusing on water, air temperature, and soil, and you note in the book that some of the changes are beneficial. But some are detrimental. So in the water section, I wanted to talk about almonds. You highlight almonds, which is one of my favorite foods.

[00:08:25] Could you describe the almond industry and how it's coping with water shortages in California specifically? 

[00:08:32] Mike Hoffmann: Well, sure. It's first of all, it's a big business with about a million tons of almonds produced each year. I enjoy them too. It looks it's I think each of us in the US consume about two pounds every year.

[00:08:46] So we enjoy these special nuts from California and you're right. 80% of the world's almonds come from California. So it's also one of the most extensively irrigated crops in California. And they're obviously dealing with a mega drought. So they've got some challenges, but growers are using something called precision irrigation techniques.

[00:09:08] So they're only watering the roots of the tree and not the land between the trees. So it's a much more efficient use of water. They're also adding organic matter to the soil, such as chopped up almond hulls. And when you increase the organic matter in the soil, it's more, it will absorb water more quickly and hold it during a drought.

[00:09:31] So that's, they're looking at the soil health as a way to manage water better. They're also putting cover crops in. Same thing, adding organic matter to the soil. And maybe in the past some of the older trees, they would keep them alive and water them. They're not the most productive, but now under these conditions, you know, they're eliminating some of the older groves again, to essentially save water.

[00:09:54] So yes, that crop uses a lot of water, but they're also using the best practices possible to minimize the use of water. 

[00:10:03] Sarah LeRoy: Well, that's good to hear. So the, the next section of the book, as Emile mentioned, kind of follows a menu. And the first chapter of this section focuses on beer, wine, and spirits. And so obviously there's a lot to talk about here, but just in interest of time, I'd like to focus on hops, which is essential for making beer.

[00:10:23] Can you describe what's changing for hops and the efforts of Taylan Morcol in the Sky Islands? 

[00:10:31] Mike Hoffmann: Sure. And by the way, this chapter was the most important to me. The wine, beer, distilled spirits. Well, first of all, most hops in the US are grown in the Pacific Northwest, but then lots and lots of production occurs across the country.

[00:10:44] But most of it's in the Pacific Northwest. And higher temperatures and droughts are taking a toll which can affect the flavor of the hops and therefore the flavor of the beers, which is not something you want. But the increasing concern about water there is the lack of winter snow pack in the mountains.

[00:11:03] Because that's the source of irrigation water in the summertime. Growers are tapping groundwater, but they really need that water that's coming off the mountains and that's declining. So that's a big challenge. There's also an increasing risk from hail. I'm not sure if the Pacific Northwest is one of the regions, but hail is actually going to get larger in some areas of the country, with climate change. 

[00:11:28] And when it hail hits the little cones, the hop cones, well, obviously they're damaged. So Taylan at the time the book was written was a graduate student. I'm not sure where he is now, but, he was searching in the Sky Islands, which are in the Southwest and they're mountains in the desert.

[00:11:46] So each sort of say mountaintop was a different ecological zone and that's where he's searching for one type of wild hop. And it's really hardy to live in that environment. It's kind of like a weed. Apparently you can cut it back and it'll just come right back to life. And it has very deep roots. So it's tough.

[00:12:09] So the idea is to take that genetic material, which is essentially resilient to some of the stresses of climate change and incorporate it into more traditional varieties of hops so they become more resilient. Now, but this is something plant breeders are doing all over, but Taylan was the one out there walking the mountains and finding these little clusters of these wild hops and it's the start of the story.

[00:12:37] Sarah LeRoy: Excellent. Thank you. So we're gonna shift a little bit from beer and spirits to salads. So in the chapter on salads, you talk about how climate change is affecting apples and avocados and olive oil and what people are doing about it. You mentioned that some production will move to, you know, more hospitable regions.

[00:12:58] So are you aware of this happening already for any of our common salad ingredients? 

[00:13:04] Mike Hoffmann: This was a really good question. I had to do a little research. So I'm gonna pick on croutons that we typically use on a salad and wheat. So there is documentation that wheat production from starting in the 1970s is actually shifting north.

[00:13:22] So that's one example. The other, it turns out growers in Oregon are now starting to experiment with olive product. And they're a long ways from, you know, the Mediterranean region where olives typically succeed best. So this is, you know, grower organization doing the right thing and, and seeing in fact if they can grow olives that far north, so there's, there's two, two examples.

[00:13:47] Specific examples of crops moving north. But if you had talked about other things, like there's a long list of other crops moving upward in elevation to cooler climes, as well as northward. Coffee is a good example, but for later. 

[00:14:02] Emile Elias: Great. Thanks. Yeah. It's interesting to think about some of those major crops like wheat and corn shifting northward, and also higher in elevation.

[00:14:12] Mike Hoffmann: Well actually, Emile, there'd be wheat production in the US will actually expand in coming years till the mid-century just because more of the US will be amendable for wheat product. A greater area. 

[00:14:24] Emile Elias: Yes. All right. Well, thank you. So we're gonna move on to the main course. And you mentioned this earlier, and I'm just gonna ask if you wanna expand on it in terms of your recommendations related to balancing the trade offs associated with eating beef.

[00:14:40] Mike Hoffmann: I think as already stated the production of beef, red meat, contributes a lot to our emissions specifically methane because they're ruminants. But at the same time, there are a number of ways for the producers to minimize those emissions from cattle, by providing them the best diet possible. I'm sure you've seen in the press feeding them kelp or maybe garlic, but I'm not sure what that does to the flavor of the milk, but there are these approaches to help the animals reduce the emissions of methane but when it comes to red meat, as I said earlier. Well to be honest, one of the reviewers when I sent them the chapter on, on meat at that time I said, stop eating red meat. And the message I got was pretty clear. Mike, you've just lost several million readers, including me in a sense, because I eat red meat.

[00:15:26] So the option, which seems to be acceptable to most people is, well, yes, you can still eat it. Just treat it as a delicacy and not a staple. And I think that's a compromise that most of us can accept. 

[00:15:42] Emile Elias: That's great. My kids and I talk about special occasion foods, and that might fall into the, the realm of special occasion food moving forward.

[00:15:50] Usually we mean ice cream and jelly beans, but in this case we might be moving to red meat. So kind of sticking with the main course section, I wanted to talk a little bit about the ocean actually, and the ocean is experiencing increased water temperature and acidification. And in the book, you mentioned a gentleman named Steve Train and he's a fisherman in Maine.

[00:16:11] And he said that he can no longer rely on his past knowledge. And the specific quote is that he says, I'm just trying to figure out where I should be next and what's going on now. Not what used to happen. And so can you describe a little bit about relying on past knowledge but also specifically what's happening with lobster in Maine and Massachusetts and Rhode Island?

[00:16:37] Mike Hoffmann: Well, there's major changes in that area. Simply put, the lobster populations are shifting north to where the waters are cool and best for them. Or they're now occurring deeper in the ocean where it's cool, but further out, which makes capturing them a little more challenging. The good news is off the coast of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes where it's cooler, the lobster populations have exploded.

[00:17:05] So there's a lot more available, but going south where it's warmer, things have changed. So, you know, back to the question what's gonna happen next it's complicated because there's also issues related to acidification and so on. But given what's happening to date, I suspect the populations are gonna continue to move north.

[00:17:24] So it's and it turns out that that area of the ocean is one of the fastest warming areas of the ocean of the world. So it's, you know, it's huge changes underway and obviously affecting lobsters and other species in the oceans there. 

[00:17:39] Emile Elias: Great. Thank you. It's a lot to think about and a lot for people to respond to as well.

[00:17:44] Not being able to rely on past knowledge and what people used in the past to make their plans. Okay, so we're gonna move on to side dishes and that chapter focuses on rice, wheat and potatoes. And since rice is the most important food for more than 3 billion people worldwide, I'd like to ask about rice and about how changes are impacting rice, and then what's being done to lessen those impacts.

[00:18:08] Mike Hoffmann: Sure. This is a really important commodity to say the least with billions of people depending on it. I'll start with a personal experience. So I had the good fortune to visit the Mekong Delta in Vietnam a few years ago, along with 10 Cornell students. And our focus was on climate change and what's happening there.

[00:18:26] Rice is not very tolerant of salt water. In part because of sea level rise, there's other factors, salt water intrusion is going up river in some cases, 40 miles, which means it's really challenging for rice production. And while we were there, the previous season had been a drought. And the farmers there don't have crop insurance.

[00:18:49] You know, if they lose a crop, that's it. So a major hit to their income and or livelihoods. So, but droughts and heat are probably the main challenges facing rice production worldwide and there're predictions that it'll be reduced in 50% yield reduction in some areas of world in the coming decades. Rice is also sensitive to warming nighttime temperatures.

[00:19:11] It reduces yields. People forget that the effect of temperatures around the clock and sometimes what's happening in the wintertime or at night can actually affect crop. The other really big concern in rice is as carbon dioxide levels increase, the nutritional quality of rice will decline. B vitamins, for example, would decline by 30% by mid-century.

[00:19:35] So let's hope the breeders can keep up and continue to keep that crop as nutritionally valuable as, as it is today. What are they doing? There's something called a system of rice intensification, where they focus on soil health and plant fewer rice plants per area. That's been demonstrated in 50 countries and it's helping. Obviously breeding for resilient varieties.

[00:19:57] There's the big group in the Philippines, International Rice Research Institute, very much involved in this. There's also something called alternative wetting and drying. So instead of keeping the paddy wet all the time, they'll actually let it dry out and then add water when it's necessary. And lastly, I guess just good water management is another approach that rice growers can use to continue raising this important crop, worldwide.

[00:20:21] Emile Elias: So we often think of yield and decreases or declines to yield as a large impact of climate change. So thank you for bringing up the importance of nutritional quality, because I think that's key in a lot of the crops. And so it's an important thing to pay attention to.

[00:20:37] Mike Hoffmann: It is. And it's, yes, it's not just rice.

[00:20:39] It's wheat. It's a variety of other staple crops that it's and it's vitamins, but also protein and essential minerals are declining. 

[00:20:48] Emile Elias: Yeah, thank you for, for noting that for us and for our listeners too. So now we have moved on to the chapter that focuses on dessert and coffee. And there's so much to ask in all of these chapters, but here especially about changes to sugar and vanilla and chocolate and dairy, but I'd like to focus in on coffee because it's so important to so many of us and to our productivity, I think as well. So I wanna ask you about how coffee is changing and how it's likely to change in the future. 

[00:21:20] Mike Hoffmann: You're right. I depend on coffee every morning as well. And so this one is close to my heart.

[00:21:26] Well, coffee growing is, is very sensitive to changes in temperature and rainfall and that's changing. It's getting warmer and precipitation doesn't fall like it used to in amount and where falling has changed. And along with this, there's two new pests that just love the new conditions. One is a rust that affects coffee.

[00:21:47] And the other is a borer that feeds in the little berries and produces huge losses in the crop. And some predictions are that the area for coffee production will be reduced by 50% in about 30 years. And clearly prices will go up. And the choices we have when I go to the local coffee store and I see coffee from all over the world, some has chocolate favors, some has vanilla.

[00:22:12] Well, in the future I don't think we'll have that many options. 

[00:22:16] Sarah LeRoy: Thanks, Mike. I will admit that I, don't yell at me, am not a coffee drinker. I'm a weird person, but I do love chocolate. 

[00:22:26] Mike Hoffmann: Do you drink tea?

[00:22:29] Sarah LeRoy: I do drink tea. Yes. 

[00:22:31] Mike Hoffmann: Okay. Well, there's a story there too. 

[00:22:33] Sarah LeRoy: Yeah. I'm sure there is. There's 

[00:22:36] Mike Hoffmann: Flavors are changing. 

[00:22:38] Sarah LeRoy: Oh boy. Okay. Okay. So, and we kind of worked our way through the menu clearly. And so next I'd like to talk just a bit about genetic diversity and diversification in, in a more business sense. As a theme that it was woven throughout the book to build resilience. So just for example, the book recommends that distillers making bourbon should rely on multiple sources of corn to ensure that they have a supply every year.

[00:23:05] So can you share other examples of how diversity and diversification, both build climate resilience? 

[00:23:13] Mike Hoffmann: Sure. And there's in a sense, several ways to look at diversity. You already mentioned bourbon, but think of a food company that sources food from around the world, there again, they should be considering several sources in case, you know, the one they've been depending on for a long time has a rough year.

[00:23:31] So are there other places to get that raw product? So you're diversifying where the source of your raw product that you depend on. If you take it to the farm, where feasible, it's best to grow multiple crops. Let's say it's a vegetable farm because if climate change damages or wipes out one or two crops, you still have others to provide your income.

[00:23:53] That's diversification on the farm. Looking to our own diets, I mean, we depend on just a few staple crops around the world. Yet there are thousands and thousands of other options for us to be eating. So that's another way to approach this and start diversifying our own food supply. And I'm gonna take an example that's in the book of a lobster woman who also was experiencing difficulties in capturing lobsters, but started producing oysters as a backup.

[00:24:21] So she's diversifying her business to stay in business. So yeah, diversity is just key, let alone, and we didn't even touch on genetic diversity, but that's another one where you, you know, if you want to find those genes that will give you the resilience in a particular crop, then tap the genetic diversity you have out there.

[00:24:38] Sarah LeRoy: Do you know of any examples of crops that are tapping into the genetic diversity options? 

[00:24:45] Mike Hoffmann: Chocolate. There's a group in Costa Rica and the UK. So they have teams in both locations just searching for wild types, et cetera. They grow obviously the chocolate in huge greenhouses in the UK. But the whole point is to seek those again, those genes that will give cacao the resilience it needs.

[00:25:04] Yeah. There's a number of these kind of programs, rice. So on.

[00:25:07] Sarah LeRoy: Great. Well, actually, that's a perfect segue into my last question. You make it a point in your book to talk a lot about solutions and obviously the genetic diversity of different crops is, is one solution. And to take a positive attitude as you discuss this difficult topic.

[00:25:22] So we also like to end our episodes on a positive note by asking our participants what gives them hope. So I'd like to ask you what gives you hope for the future when you're thinking about climate change and our global food supply. 

[00:25:36] Mike Hoffmann: Sometimes this is a difficult question to respond to because I follow the literature, both scientific, popular press, et cetera.

[00:25:45] And it's not always encouraging as to what's not being done. But I also tell people that the antidote to despair is action. And so we can all get involved and do something. I call it finding your greater purpose. And if you want a greater purpose, we got one for you. This challenge is enormous, but we can, I call it, I use the word confront, defy, face up to, I love that word.

[00:26:14] We can confront climate change if we have the will. And the major impediments to doing that are social and political, not technical. We can, you know, breed varieties. We can do all kinds of things. We can sequester carbon in the soil, et cetera, but we have to have the will to do that. And the fact that I'm involved in something using food to tell this story, everybody eats.

[00:26:40] It's a common ground across all climate beliefs, religion, age, you name it. And I feel strongly that we're onto something. So that gives me hope. And that's what I focus on all the time. And lastly, so I have two daughters. I want them to know that their dad tried regardless of the outcome. They will know that.

[00:27:00] So that's how I respond to the question about, do I have hope. 

[00:27:04] Sarah LeRoy: Thanks Mike and I, I very much enjoyed talking about this topic with you, also. It's fun to engage about food. Just before we end, is there anything else that you'd like to mention? 

[00:27:16] Mike Hoffmann: I'm happy to share a promo code for the book. If anybody, if you like 40% discount. Here it is.

[00:27:21] It's 0-9-S-A-V-E. 09SAVE. There's one other thing but I also teach a online course called Climate Change Leadership. It's an eCornell course. It's amazing because the students are from everywhere around the world and it's mainly for organizations. There's also a discount code for that. Normally it's 250, but the discount code is worth a hundred dollars off, but I'm trying to get more people to sign up for the course.

[00:27:46] Sarah LeRoy: Thanks so much to you and your colleagues for making this information accessible via a website that you created that can be updated as new information is being discovered or new research is published. So I'm wondering if you could speak to the intent behind creating that website and how it gets updated.

[00:28:05] Mike Hoffmann: Well, any book, especially one on climate change and food is out of date. The day it's published more or less because things are changing so fast. So we decided to create a website that can be kept current. It's also, you know, a more visual way of telling this story there's videos in it. And so on. But there's two databases.

[00:28:25] One focuses on food ingredients and how they're changing. So it's a searchable database that ultimately could have several hundred food ingredients, and we know chefs are interested in this. Because they wanna know what's the latest on ABC or whatever it might be. That requires actually a lot of work because it's amazing.

[00:28:44] Once you start digging into an ingredient, let's put it this way. It's hard to find an ingredient that isn't changing. So it's, it's kind of exciting. There's a second database and that's on plant-based products, textiles, perfumes, pet food, plant-based cleaners, medicinal herbs, pharmaceuticals, anything that's plant-based.

[00:29:05] It's changing because the plants are changing. It's not a doom and gloom story, but it's another way to touch on several billion dollar industries that better be aware of what's going on. And actually it's setting the stage for another book, but I'm not sure I'm gonna do that. 

[00:29:21] Emile Elias: Oh, I'm so curious. I wanna hear about the other book. 

[00:29:25] Mike Hoffmann: Well, it would be on, it would be on the plant based products, because it, again, the stories are unlimited to tell and it's relevant to everybody's life.

[00:29:32] Emile Elias: And so tell me, are those databases that you mentioned, the two databases, are those updated periodically or how are they maintained? 

[00:29:42] Mike Hoffmann: Well, we're still, we're, I think we only have maybe a hundred or so ingredients in the food database. And again, it could be up to several hundred when it's completed, but, then we'll constantly have to watch what's happening to those databases. 

[00:29:55] So it's a bit of a project. The plant based one is still in its infancy. I think what's on there now is has to do with textiles because you think cotton, silk, a variety of other of, of other fibers used in our textiles that has a long ways to go and to grow.

[00:30:11] But in the spring, I had three or four students working on the databases and searching for information. 

[00:30:17] Emile Elias: Okay. So you have a cadre of students that are helping to build the scientific information into the database. 

[00:30:23] Mike Hoffmann: Correct. 

[00:30:24] Emile Elias: And if there are researchers out there who hear this and wanna send things, we'll be sure to include a way to get in touch with you.

[00:30:31] Mike Hoffmann: That sounds good. Thank you. 

[00:30:33] Sarah LeRoy: Great. Well, we'll make sure to include a link in the episode description and we encourage our listeners to check it out. And I just want to thank you again for joining us today. This has been a very fun and engaging conversation, so thank you. 

[00:30:47] Mike Hoffmann: Great. Thank you very, very much. I just really sincerely appreciate the opportunity to share this story.

[00:30:54] That's what I will do until I can't do it.

[00:31:03] Emile Elias: Thanks for listening to Come Rain or Shine, podcast of the USDA Southwest Climate Hub 

[00:31:08] Sarah LeRoy: and the USGS Southwest CASC. If you liked this podcast, don't forget to rate or review it and subscribe for more great episodes. A special thanks to our production crew, Skye Aney and Reanna Burnett. If you want more information, have any questions for the speakers, or would like to offer feedback, please reach out to us via our websites.