Environment

This Map Shows Where Your Favorite Foods Come From

November 6th 2016

By:
Tricia Tongco

Modern agricultural production has spoiled us with access to all kinds of fruits and vegetables all year round. Most of us are clueless about their origins.

So it may surprise you to discover just where your food crops were initially domesticated, as revealed in a new study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

Screenshot of North America on map

"We’ve been exchanging food crops for so long that today almost 70 percent of crops that form the basis of a national diet (think tomatoes in Italy, potatoes in Ireland, or chili peppers in Thailand) come from another region," the World Economic Forum noted.

Most of our crops, no surprise, have foreign origins.

Here are a few more interesting takeaways:

1. Apples aren't as American as you think.

apples on map

You've heard the phrase "American as apple pie," and apples seem like the most emblematic fruit in the American consciousness.

But apples originated in Europe, central Asia and East Asia., according to the CGIAR study.

2. Coffee comes from Africa.

coffee on map

Your morning cup of joe might conjure visions of coffee plantations in Colombia or other countries in Central and South America.

Or maybe you think of coffee coming from Seattle, birthplace of Starbucks.

But you'd be wrong. Coffee originated in east, west, and central Africa.

3. Most countries have developed multiple food crops. Except Australia.

When you look at the types of produce coming from various continents, it's easy to see the rich diversity of crops from each region – except for Down Under.

Australia's only food crop is the macadamia nut. But, hey, at least they're the world’s major producer of macadamia nuts.

4. We are more globally interdependent than ever.

"The numbers affirm what we have long known — that our entire food system is completely global," Colin Khoury, lead researcher and a plant scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told NPR.

The trend of dietary dependence on foreign crops has only been accelerating. That will help fight future threats, such as climate change, pests, and diseases, according to NPR.

"That means we need to start behaving as if we are interdependent," Cary Fowler, former executive secretary of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and co-author of the paper told NPR.

View the full interactive map here.

[h/t World Economic Forum]