Saturday, March 3, 2012

How many countries contributed to your meal?

In my job as a writer in an agricultural communications office, I hear all sorts of stories and statistics.

One day this week, my colleague Linda came in and said, "Here's a bit of trivia for you: Americans consume food from an average of 15 countries daily." That figure includes spices, but even so, it's a surprising number, considering the "buy local" movement's popularity.

Where is your food coming from?

If you are buying honey at the grocery store, it could be from up to five countries (or at least that's the maximum number I've seen listed on a label).

If you're drinking apple juice, you may be hard pressed to find a product that is made in the USA only (Martinelli's says it's made from US-grown apples and we've found one other seasonal cider that is US-made). According to this article, a large portion of apple juice comes from China.

This time of year, fresh fruits, such as blueberries, are likely from Chile.

As a society, we've moved from "putting up" produce to eat through the winter, to shipping fresh produce across the globe to satisfy our year-round cravings for what were once seasonal items.

I don't have proof that one way is better than another, that regulations in one country make buying frozen blueberries better than buying fresh from another, or that my home-canned tomatoes are better for me than their store-bought cousins.

I just find it fascinating that on average, 15 countries are impacting my meal.

What do you think?

Image from New Florence. New Renaissance.