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2018/Food journeys

For its 7th annual meeting, the UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems is focusing on the voyages of food and associated culinary practices and cultures. These voyages have fostered strong food interdependence across the continents and today enable us to "eat the world".

For example, according to a study [1] of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) published by the Royal Society of London in 2016, two-thirds of the foods that we eat originate from other parts of the world regardless of the place on the planet where the foods are prepared. It thus seems that the entire world is tucked onto our plates, the result of a long process of human migrations, conquests, major discoveries and trade in agricultural and food products. Over the past twenty years, this trade has been marked by an increase in the flows, countries involved and products traded. Throughout history, the transfer and spread of plants have produced significant effects on landscapes, agricultural practices, gastronomic traditions, nutritional developments, health, demographics, and obviously economic development. For example, consider the spice trade, which since ancient times has enriched Egyptians, Greeks, Arabs, Portuguese, etc., up to the Dutch who, in the 17th and 18th centuries, carved out a maritime and economic empire through the East India Company. Finally, the journeys of foods and the people who cook them have shaped a world rich with hybridization, reciprocal borrowing and evolving identities revolving around food.

How did plants cross the oceans through major discoveries? How did tea, coffee and chocolate become essential breakfast fixtures? How do migrant and refugee populations adapt their traditions and know-how? How do nomad populations manage their diets? How did iconic dishes like pizza spread around the world?

Read the overview

The symposium in 7 minutes (English subtitles):

The opening speech inaugural conference by Kamal Mouzawak (English subtitles):

[1Khoury CK et al., 2016. « Origins of food crops connect countries worldwide ». Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 283: 20160792.