A Circular Tale of Changing Food Preferences

10:09 EDT 13 Mar 2017 | Meridian Institute

“Everybody,” this article says, “is trying to eat more of the grains that better-off people are eating, except the very wealthy, who prize poor people’s food.” People in many parts of the world, this article explains, are dropping familiar grains for new ones, due to agricultural technology, work, health and social aspirations. In Africa, for example, rice is replacing many native grains; production of the crop in west Africa increased from 7.1 million tons to 16.8 million tons between 2000 and 2014. New hybrid seed lines developed just for Africa have boosted yields and enabled farmers to grow rice in dry areas. Thomas Reardon, who studies food at Michigan State University, United States, says demand for rice is being driven by urbanization. In Asia, however - where rice has always been central to life - consumption is more or less flat. In better-off Asian countries, rice is going out of fashion and wealthier Asians are eating more vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and dairy products. The new grain of choice is wheat. And, “As west Africans fill their plates with rice, and South-East Asians munch ciabatta, Americans are moving away from both.” In the U.S., especially in its richest quarters, wheat has new competitors: “ancient grains,” such as einkorn, Kamut, brown rice and quinoa. They are, supposedly, healthier and more authentic than plain old rice and wheat, this article notes. They are also more expensive. It’s still too early to tell whether ancient grains are more than a fad, this article concludes. The most important cereals benefit from agricultural research that helps raise yields and suppress pests and diseases; they are often subsidized. Still, consumers, and not governments, ultimately drive changes in diets.

Original Article: A Circular Tale of Changing Food Preferences


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Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism ...