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Ch. 26 - PARLOUS PLENTY INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2009

Kenneth F. Kiple
Affiliation:
Bowling Green State University, Ohio
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Summary

The custom and fashion of today will be the awkwardness and outrage of tomorrow. So arbitrary are these transient laws.

Alexandre Dumas

LOOKING BACKWARD from this start of a new century (and new millennium for that matter), just a tad more than 600 years have gone by since the Old and New Worlds were united. These are but a small fraction of the ten to twelve thousand years that have elapsed since the beginning of agriculture, but in that short time span the foods of the world have been astonishingly rearranged so that potatoes grow in such diverse climates as those of Siberia and Indonesia, sugar in equally diverse places like Pakistan and Mexico, and pistachios have been transplanted from Iran to California – now the world's second largest producer.

In the Old World, China is now the most important producer of wheat, originally domesticated in the Middle East; China and India dominate the production of rice, which likely began as a Southeast Asian crop; India is the biggest producer of tea, first cultivated in China, and peanuts, first cultivated in South America; tropical Asia produces most of the world's manioc – an American plant that Brazil claims as a native; and China is also the leading producer of white and sweet potatoes, a half-world away from their native Andes.

Type
Chapter
Information
A Movable Feast
Ten Millennia of Food Globalization
, pp. 285 - 294
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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