This Is What Dessert Would Look Like Without Bees

The end of pollinators will kick you in the (sweet) teeth.

Slide the bar over the image above to reveal what the dessert counter would look like without pollinators.

Bad news for those with a sweet tooth: the absence of pollinators such as bees and butterflies would signal the end of dessert as we know it.

Whole Foods Market recently removed all products from an area of the supermarket reliant on the creatures, mirroring past initiatives in the diary aisle and the produce section. The results, seen above in the bakery department for the company's Share the Buzz campaign, are dramatic.

Without pollinators, 95 percent of dessert items the grocery chain stocks would either disappear completely or need to be drastically altered.

Pollinators including hummingbirds, flies, beetles and moths help in the production of nearly 75 percent of crops and an equal proportion of flowering plants.

Foods like chocolate, vanilla, coffee, almonds and berries wouldn't be available without them. Even dairy products used in desserts like cheesecake and creme brulee would be harder to come by, as many cows eat diets of pollinator-dependent alfalfa or clover.

Some estimates attribute up to $15 billion a year in food production to pollinators. Apples, lemons, watermelon, carrots and avocado all rely on the creatures.

“Pollinators are really that critical link to make food taste good.”

"Pollinators are really that critical link to make food taste good," said Eric Mader, the co-director of the Xerces Society's pollinator program. "They're typically responsible for the most nutrient rich part of our diet. If you take a blueberry pie and disassemble it without bees, you're left with flour and sugar, which really flies in the face of health and nutrition."

But the future looks bleak for many pollinators. Bee colonies have been dying at troubling rates over the past half-decade, and President Barack Obama established a task force last year designed to aid the winged work horse. Eastern monarch butterflies may be at risk of extinction within 20 years, despite recent increases in population. And a lethal fungus plaguing bats has spread to the west coast.

Aside from wide-ranging policy changes, like Europe's ban on bee-harming pesticides, Mader said initiatives by companies like General Mills to plant pollinator-friendly habitats near farms can provide support to the beleaguered insects. At home, adding a milkweed plant to the garden for monarchs or wildflowers for native bees can be a simple, but effective measure.

Mader said the next few decades could reflect the "best conservation efforts of our era" if society steps up to save our pollinators. Because without them, life will be a lot less sweet.

Take a look at another photo of the dessert counter below, and check out what the diary aisle and the produce department would look like without pollinators.

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