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10 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Food

Food is a key part of everyone’s lives. It is also, however, at the core of many of the world’s problems and disagreements. Today, Development Roast brings you ten roasting facts that we bet you didn’t know about food.
1. 15 species of cultivated plants “literally stand between man and starvation” because they make up 80-90% of all globally consumed calories.

2. Sugar was unheard of in England in 1000AD, yet by 1900s it made up 20% of all caloric intake. Whilst Soy, domesticated as far back as 3000BC, is now a vital component of 75% of all products on supermarket shelves, including chocolate and is in most products sold  by fast food industry.

An Artistic Assortment of Innocent Vegetables at a Show in Bangkok. But did you know that food can also be used as a weapon? (Photo Credit: Ioulia Fenton)

3. 70 percent of Mexican tomatoes are rejected for export when they reach the ports because they are not pretty enough, have blemishes, odd shapes or any sign of ripeness. They have to be perfectly round and light green to enter the Western market.

4. We have enough food globally for every single person, man, woman and child to eat 4.3lb of food every day. Not just any food,  but a nutritious, delicious, balanced diet of 2.5lb of grain, beans and nuts, about a pound of meat, milk and eggs and another of fruits and vegetables. The real causes of global hunger are poverty, inequality and lack of access.

5. Changes in diet and health can be incredibly rapid. Meat and fat consumption in Saudi Arabia rose a whopping 300% between the 1970s and 1990s.

6. Food can and has been used as a weapon. Earl Butz, the Secretary of State for Agriculture under Ford and Nixon, for example, was quoted saying:
“Hungry men listen only to those who have a piece of bread. Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the US negotiating kit.”
7. 31 serious famines occurred in India under 120 years of British rule and the capitalist system against just 17 recorded for the previous 2,000 years of feudalism.

Many GM Foods Remain Unlabelled, Especially in the United States (Photo Credit: Grant Cochrane)

8. Food markets are highly concentrated with top 10 global agrochemical companies controlling 85% of the market; 10 largest veterinary medicine companies own 60% of animal health markets, and top 10 seed companies control 32% of the commercial seed market. Just four companies in US provide 69% of North American seed corn market as of 2000.

9. When Genetically Modified foods were first developed, companies producing them expected this to be a great unique selling point and in the US actually had an eye-catching label saying ‘Genetically Modified’. They soon withdrew this tactic as worries about GM representing ‘Frankenfoods’ meant no-one bought it. Today in the US, GM is not labeled and many products contain GM or other biotechnology ingredients without customers’ knowledge. At the beginning of the century 90% of surveyed US consumers want GM labeled, but learning their lesson from the first disaster, the companies producing it have thus far managed to successfully lobby against any such law in the US. Luckily, UK and some parts of Europe have thus far taken a hard line against GM.

10. Food is at the core of many fights. Majority of the world’s rural social resistance movements, for example, are somehow linked  to food and agriculture. In Brazil between 1987 and 2007 according to official statistics only (meaning huge under-estimates), at least 1,425 rural workers, leaders and activists have been assassinated to keep the food system exactly as it is.
Do you know of any amazing facts about food? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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