Figuring origins of our food and globalization in our food supply

This is a superb piece based on this research.

The authors track where most of our foods come from and how much of our food supply is globalised. On an average in most countries around 70% of food come from elsewhere. There are images and maps to figure all this interesting bit:

Some people may be dimly aware that Thailand’s chilies and Italy’s tomatoes — despite being central to their respective local cuisines — originated in South America. Now, for the first time, a new study reveals the full extent of globalization in our food supply. More than two-thirds of the crops that underpin national diets originally came from somewhere else — often far away. And that trend has accelerated over the past 50 years.

Colin Khoury, a plant scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (known by its Spanish acronym CIAT) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the study’s lead researcher. Khoury tells The Salt that “the numbers affirm what we have long known — that our entire food system is completely global.”

Previous work by the same authors had shown that national diets have adopted new crops and become more and more globally alike in recent decades. The new study shows that those crops are mainly foreign.

The idea that crop plants have centers of origin, where they were originally domesticated, goes back to the 1920s and the great Russian plant explorer Nikolai Vavilov. He reasoned that the region where a crop had been domesticated would be marked by the greatest diversity of that crop, because farmers there would have been selecting different types for the longest time. Diversity, along with the presence of that crop’s wild relatives, marked the center of origin.

The Fertile Crescent, with its profusion of wild grasses related to wheat and barley, is the primary center of diversity for those cereals. Thai chilies come originally from Central America and tropical South America, while Italian tomatoes come from the Andes.

Khoury and his colleagues extended Vavilov’s methods to look for the origins of 151 different crops across 23 geographical regions. They then examined national statistics for diet and food production in 177 countries, covering 98.5 percent of the world’s population. “For each country, we could work out which crops contributed to calories, protein, fats and total weight of food — and whether they originated in that country’s region or were foreign,” Khoury says.

Hmm..Completely clueless about all this..


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