There has been a large push over recent years to eat local, and for good reason. Besides supporting local farmers, from an environmental standpoint, we should strive to get our meat and produce from as close to home as possible.
But just because our food was grown locally, doesn’t make it local.
A new study published by The Royal Society Publishing looked at the native origins of crops. Interestingly enough, many of today’s crops aren’t grown in their native land of origin.
Canada’s largest crops are grains, but wheat, barley, and many other grains all originally came from Asia. Very little of what we grow is actually native to Canada, but maybe that makes sense.
Check out these finds from the study summarized by NPR:
Regions far from centers of agricultural biodiversity — such as North America, northern Europe and Australia — are most dependent on foreign crops. By the same token, countries in regions of diversity that are still growing and eating their traditional staples — for example, South Asia and West Africa — were least dependent on foreign crops. But even countries like Bangladesh and Niger depend on foreign crops for one-fifth of the food they eat and grow. Tomatoes, chilies and onions (from West and Central Asia), for example, are important in both countries.
Furthermore, the dependence on foreign crops has gone up from 63% to 69% in the last 50 years. It’s not surprising considering the increased accessibility of seeds, and modern science has made it easy to manipulate crops into thriving in non-native environments.
Is this a good thing? How is it affecting local ecosystems?
Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on the growing percentage of foreign crops being grown here in Canada.
Also, check out these amazing interactive graphics on the CIAT Blog. We’re sure some of your favourite food’s origins will surprise you.