Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Global Diets Become More Similar

We aren't so different after all, and that could be a bad thing when it comes to the global food supply.

packages french bread with Chinese label

Photo: Parisa (Flickr)

More and more people across the world are eating foods containing wheat, corn and potato.

As global diets change, they are becoming more similar.

This could spell disaster as humans worldwide become dependent on a few “super crops,” like potato, wheat and corn.

Westernization Of Diets

Globally, diets are mirroring what is considered the typical Western diet — heavy on grains, dairy and meat with a sweet tooth.

Researchers with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) compiled 50 years of research to see if they could track how global diets are changing — or becoming more similar.

What they found was global food similarity had grown by about 36 percent. Increasing reliance on potato, wheat, corn and soybeans has meant many indigenous crops to Asia and Africa, like millet and sorghum, are beginning to disappear.

What Are The Consequences?

Over-reliance on a few staple foods makes the food supply more vulnerable. If disease or disaster were to strike a major food, the impact would be enormous.

Processed foods are gaining in popularity worldwide, and diet-related diseases,  like obesity and diabetes, are on the rise from the Americas to Asia.

However, within individual nation’s borders, diets are becoming more diverse.

Read More:

  • In The New Globalized Diet, Wheat, Soy And Palm Oil Rule (NPR)
  • Global diets get more similar in threat to food security: study (Chicago Tribune)
  • Our Global Diet Is Becoming Increasingly Homogenized — And That’s Risky (TIME)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Bloomington, Indiana. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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