Where do you think the ingredients in the sandwich you ate for lunch came from? It’s tougher to guess than you might think. The International Center of Tropical Agriculture conducted a massive, three-year-long survey of 150 countries around the world to see where the food they eat actually comes from. It turns out the world is tied together by quite a tangled web of food. You can see in the Spirograph-esque graphic below that no region in the world is remotely self-sufficient. And, as Fast Company points out, it shows how many parts of the world actually run a calorie deficit, meaning that they export much more food than they take in.
There are two serious issues with countries running calorie deficits like the ones on these charts.
The first one is moral. In countries in Southeast Asia, for example, which ship everything from rice to persimmons all over the world, it’s not uncommon for between 10 and 15 percent of the population to go hungry. The implication of running a calorie deficit is that at least some of that food could be eaten locally instead of in some far-flung part of the world.
The other issue though, as the web makes clear, is that a blow to certain parts of the world can be a blow to the whole global food supply. If a typhoon hits in the South China Sea, it can wreak havoc on the other side of the Pacific as well.
The web is an interesting reminder that we’re all interconnected, not just through our Facebooking and tweeting, but through something much more tangible. And usually delicious.