How much do we know about the things we eat?

By : | 0 Comments | On : August 17, 2016 | Category : Facts and figures, Healthy eating

Does this really matter? I don’t know but I often find it fun to enrich my general knowledge. This post is about things that we eat on a regular basis. Fact is 1/3 rd of them is foreign by origin. Digitization of food shows on televisions and internet is a kind of crazy affair for today’s youth. We came to know about Kale, Collard greens, Avocado, Brussels sprouts  and many more  from world wide online cooking and travel shows. Expert foreign chefs take real pleasure introducing fresh new veggies, fruits and other foods to meet your daily nutritional goals but do we know many of the staple foods are of foreign origins? Yes, true it is. In order justify my words, I researched a bit here and there and came up with a long list consisting of more than 50 foods.

You will keep exclaiming at the profusion of foreign veggies and fruits in your local market. Much to your surprise, this is not a recent phenomenon. Of all food grains, vegetables and fruits eaten in India, one third originally came from some foreign land. If we consider calorie count for these foods, they are accounted for 45% of the total calorie consumed in the country. Globally 66% of calories consumed are derived from foreign origin foods on an average of 71% of production. This data was gathered and analysed by an international team of scientists studying interdependence of world’s countries on each other’s foods. This study, covering 177 countries and 132 types of fruits and vegetables, was led by scientists from International Center of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) .

 

Lets explore the list in a glance:

A few crops and their primary origins of diversity:

1. Chilly (Central America)

2. Maize (Central America)

3. Beans (Central America)

4. Papaya (Central America)

5. Palm Oil (Central America)

6. Wheat (West Asia)

7. Onion (West Asia)

8. Peas (West Asia)

9. Carrots (West Asia)

10. Spinach (West Asia)

11. Grapes (West Asia)

12. Rapeseed (Mediterranean)

13. Mustard (Mediterranean)

14. Potato (South America)

15. Tomato (South America)

16. Pumpkin (South America)

17. Garlic (Central Asia)

18. Apple (Central Asia)

19. Cabbage (East Asia)

20. Orange (East Asia)

21. Soybean (East Asia)

22. Sorghum (Africa)

23. Coffee (Africa)

24. Cowpeas (Africa)

Astonished to see the long list of foods derived from foreign origins? Not to worry. India is also the origin of vast number of are vegetables, fruits and spices. Let’s find out what are they. Banana, Chickpea, Coconut, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cucumber, Eggplant, Mango, Lemon, Millets, Rice, Sugarcane, Tea, Ginger and lentils are the popular names worth mentioning. A couple of others could be there by chance.

fruits- market

Now the question remains when and how the foods of foreign origin reach India? Ancient human migration over centuries and trade are the most common reason for transport of plant species across regions. The way we started cultivating foreign foods and veggies in our lands, foreign countries did feel the impetus to produce crops and fruits of Indian origin from their soil. Genetic diversity pin points exact step by step evolution for vegetables, fruits, spices and more. There may be striking difference between the origins for certain fruits with their present domesticated forms but that does not rule out the authenticity.Assimilation of new type of food plant produce would be difficult process but history shows that it is strikingly easy. Potatoes and Maize are great example for this.

 

Whatever be the reason behind such diversified existence of vegetables and fruits, we finally  imbibed them as our own. We can see a a bunch of exotic vegetables are planted along side Mulberry trees. Ducks are waddling around. You might hear  from organic farm owners that Ducks work for them as natural pest control. Demand for organic foods are growing day by day. High street restaurants like to import everything that their health conscious customers want  to eat. These things actually prompted local farmers to plant lesser known vegetables and fruits. These veggies are popular in different parts of the world. By virtue of tv shows and social media crazes, they are now permanent inhabitants of India.High Street restaurants pay handsome for these ultra modern vegetables and fruits that they can delight their upper class customers. Globalization is the key point of success here and we eat a lot of foods without knowing their proper origins. Who cares until and unless we grow any side effects out them..right?