Where did you favorite foods originate?

 food map

The globalization of our food supply is not a new concept. Some of us may recall from grade school science class that the tomatoes prevalent in Italian dishes and the potatoes frequently associated with the Irish originated thousands of miles from those countries, in South America. Now a new study shows the extent of this trend, reporting that over two-thirds of the crops used in food supplies for any given region originally came from outside the area.

In the article published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences, lead author Colin K. Khoury and 15 other researchers looked at "the geographical origins of the agricultural crop species important in the food supplies" of countries across the globe. What they found was that the food supplies worldwide were quite diverse, indicative of a "thoroughly interconnected global food system." The study also found that there were "primary" regions of food production, concentrated in the tropics and subtropics and extending into temperate zones to the north and south.

The text of this study goes into considerable detail for those who like to geek out on the science. For the rest of us, several intriguing and easy-to-understand graphics drive home the points. The map above shows the "primary regions of diversity" of hundreds of different food crops. Other images indicate concepts like which countries look outside their borders the most to meet their food needs and which areas in the world are most important to the global food supply. You can also find a concise summary of the findings at NPR's The Salt.

Image used under Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0 from Origins of food crops connect countries worldwide byColin K. Khoury, Harold A. Achicanoy, Anne D. Bjorkman, Carlos Navarro-Racines, Luigi Guarino, Ximena Flores-Palacios, Johannes M. M. Engels, John H. Wiersema, Hannes Dempewolf, Steven Sotelo, Julian Ramírez-Villegas, Nora P. Castañeda-Álvarez, Cary Fowler, Andy Jarvis, Loren H. Rieseberg, Paul C. Struik;

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