List of food origins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Some type of foods were always common in every continent, such as many seafood and plants. Examples of these types of food are honey, ants, mussels, crabs and coconuts. Nikolai Vavilov initially identified the centers of origin for eight crop plants, subdividing them further into twelve groups in 1935.[1]


Various squashes such as Turban, Sweet Dumpling, Carnival, Gold Acorn, Delicata, Buttercup and Golden Nugget.

Corn, beans and squash were domesticated in Mesoamerica around 3500 BCE. Potatoes, quinoa and manioc were domesticated in South America. In what is now the eastern United States, Native Americans domesticated sunflower and sumpweed around 2500 BCE.[2]

Ancient American crops[3]
Cereals Maize (corn), maygrass, and little barley
Pseudocereals Amaranth, quinoa, erect knotweed, sumpweed, and sunflowers
Pulses Common beans, tepary beans, scarlet runner beans, lima beans, and peanuts
Fiber Mexican cotton, yucca, and agave
Roots and tubers Jicama, manioc (cassava), potatoes, sweet potatoes, sunchokes, oca, mashua, ulloco, arrowroot, yacon, leren, and groundnuts
Fruits Tomatoes, chili peppers, avocados, cranberries, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, huckleberries, cherimoyas, papayas, pawpaws, passionfruit, pineapples, red raspberries, soursops and strawberries
Melons Squashes
Meat and poultry Turkey, bison, muscovy ducks, and guinea pigs
Nuts Peanut, black walnuts, shagbark hickory, pecans, hickory nuts, acorns from oak trees, pinion pine nuts, cashew nuts
Other Chocolate, canna, tobacco, chicle, rubber, maple syrup, birch syrup and vanilla
Timeline of American crop cultivation[4]
Date Crops Location
7000 BCE Maize Mexico
5000 BCE Cotton Mexico
4800 BCE Squash
Chili peppers
4000 BCE Maize
Common bean
4000 BCE Ground nut South America
2000 BCE Sunflowers

North America[edit]


Vegetables and grains[edit]


Canada, Mexico, and the United States are home to a number of edible fruit; however, only three are commercially grown/known on a global scale (grapes, cranberries, and blueberries). Many of the fruits below are still eaten locally as they have been for centuries and others are generating renewed interest by eco-friendly gardeners (less need for bug control) and chefs alike.

Pacific Northwest[edit]

Provisionally, this is primarily southern Coast Salish, though much is in common with Coast Salish overall.

Anthropogenic grasslands were maintained. The south Coast Salish may have had more vegetables and land game than people farther north or on the outer coast. Salmon and other fish were staples in this area. There was kokanee, a freshwater fish in the Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish watersheds. Shellfish were abundant. Butter clams, horse clams, and cockles were dried for trade.

Hunting was specialized; professions were probably sea hunters, land hunters, and fowlers. Water fowl were captured on moonless nights using strategic flares.

The managed grasslands not only provided game habitat, but vegetable sprouts, roots, bulbs, berries, and nuts were foraged from them as well as found wild. The most important were probably bracken and camas, and wapato especially for the Duwamish. Many, many varieties of berries were foraged; some were harvested with comblike devices not reportedly used elsewhere. Acorns were relished but were not widely available. Regional tribes went in autumn to the Nisqually Flats (Nisqually plains) to harvest them.[6] Indeed, the region was so abundant that the southern Puget Sound as a whole had one of the only sedentary hunter-gatherer societies that has ever existed.[citation needed]

Mexico and Central America[edit]

South America[edit]

Middle East or West Asia[edit]

Fertile Crescent, often seen as the birthplace of civilization

Neolithic founder crops[edit]

The Neolithic founder crops (or primary domesticates) are the eight plant species that were domesticated by early Holocene (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region of southwest Asia, and which formed the basis of systematic agriculture in the Middle East, North Africa, India, Persia and (later) Europe. They consist of flax, three cereals and four pulses, and are the first known domesticated plants in the world. Although domesticated rye (Secale cereale) occurs in the final Epi-Palaeolithic strata at Tell Abu Hureyra (the earliest instance of a domesticated plant species), it was insignificant in the Neolithic Period of southwest Asia and only became common with the spread of farming into northern Europe several millennia later.

Cereals and pseudocereals[edit]

  • Barley (Hordeum vulgare/sativum, descended from the wild H. spontaneum)
  • Einkorn (Triticum monococcum, descended from the wild T. boeoticum)
  • Emmer (Triticum dicoccum, descended from the wild T. dicoccoides)
  • Flax (Linum usitatissimum)
  • Oats
  • Sesame
  • Wheat
  • Rye












There was a great deal of commerce between the provinces of the Roman Empire. All the regions of the empire became interdependent with one another; some provinces specialized in the production of grain, others in wine and others in olive oil, depending on the soil type. Columella writes in his Res Rustica, "Soil that is heavy, chalky, and wet is not unsuited to the growing for winter wheat and spelt. Barley tolerates no place except one that is loose and dry."[7] Pliny the Elder writes extensively about agriculture from books XII to XIX; in fact, XVIII is The Natural History of Grain.[8] Crops grown on Roman farms included wheat, barley, millet, pea, broad bean, lentil, flax, sesame, chickpea, hemp, turnip, olives, pear, apples, figs, and plums. Others in the Mediterranean include:

Mediterranean and subtropical fruits[edit]

Fruits in this category are not hardy to extreme cold, as the preceding temperate fruits are, yet tolerate some frost and may have a modest chilling requirement. Notable among these are natives of the Mediterranean:



Ancient Asian crops
Cereals Rice
Pulses Azuki bean, Soya bean
Roots and tubers Yams
Fruits See List below
Meat and poultry Chicken
Other Shiitake mushrooms, Tea, Coconut,

Fruits of Asian origin[edit]

These are some fruits native to Asia or of Asian origin.

North Asia[edit]

Tibetan plateau

Korean Peninsula[edit]

Indian Subcontinent[edit]

Around 7000 BCE, sesame, brinjal, and humped cattle were domesticated in the Indus Valley.[9] By 3000 BCE, turmeric, cardamom, black pepper and mustard were harvested in India.[10]








Austronesia & New Guinea[edit]

Austronesia is the broad region covering the islands of both the Indian and the Pacific oceans settled by Austronesian peoples originating from Taiwan and southern China, starting at around 3,500 to 2,000 BCE. These regions include Island Southeast Asia, Near Oceania (Melanesia), Remote Oceania (Micronesia and Polynesia), Madagascar, and the Comoros Islands. Contact and cultural exchange with early Papuan agriculture in New Guinea also led to homogenization of the agriculture of the two ethnolinguistic groups. The plants originating from Austronesia and New Guinea include:[11][12]


Animal products[edit]




Root crops[edit]

Vegetables and herbs[edit]




Helmeted guinea fowl in tall grass

The first instances of domestication of plants for agricultural purposes in Africa occurred in the Sahel region circa 5000 BCE, when sorghum and African Rice (Oryza glaberrima) began to be cultivated. Around this time, and in the same region, Fonio and the small guineafowl were domesticated.

Around 4000 BCE the climate of the Sahara and the Sahel started to become drier at an exceedingly fast pace. This climate change caused lakes and rivers to shrink significantly and caused increasing desertification. This, in turn, decreased the amount of land conducive to settlements and helped to cause migrations of farming communities to the more humid climate of West Africa.[13]

The most famous crop domesticated in the Ethiopian highlands is coffee. Khat, ensete, noog, teff and finger millet were also domesticated in the Ethiopian highlands. Crops domesticated in the Sahel region include sorghum and pearl millet. The kola nut, extracts from which became an ingredient in Coca-Cola, was first domesticated in West Africa. Other crops domesticated in West Africa include African rice, African yams, black-eyed peas and the oil palm.[2]


Fruits of Australian origin[edit]

Although the fruits of Australia were eaten for thousands of years as bushfood by Aboriginal people, they have only been recently recognized for their culinary qualities by non-indigenous people. Many are regarded for their piquancy and spice-like qualities for use in cooking and preserves. Some Australian fruits also have exceptional nutritional qualities, including high vitamin C and other antioxidants.

Current importance of food origins[edit]

In 2016, researchers linked the origins and primary regions of diversity ("areas typically including the locations of the initial domestication of crops, encompassing the primary geographical zones of crop variation generated since that time, and containing relatively high species richness in crop wild relatives") of food and agricultural crops with their current importance around the world in modern national food supplies and agricultural production. The results indicated that national diets and farm production around the world were generally composed of a large set of crops from many diverse origins. Foreign crops (crops whose origins do not include the same region as the country) comprised 68.7% of national food supplies as a global mean, and their usage has increased in the last fifty years.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Corinto, Gian Luigi (2014). "Nikolai Vavilov's Centers of Origin of Cultivated Plants With a View to Conserving Agricultural Biodiversity". Human Evolution. 29 (4): 285–301.
  2. ^ a b Diamond, Jared (1999). Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York: Norton Press. ISBN 978-0-393-31755-8.
  3. ^ Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs and Steel, W. W. Norton & Company, 1999, p. 126.
  4. ^ Gardening History Timeline: From Ancient Times to the 20th Century
  5. ^ a b c "Cranberries: America's Native Fruit". Belly Bytes. Retrieved 2009-01-04. Cranberries are as American as apple pie - in fact, even more so, for cranberries are one of only three major native North American fruits (Concord grapes and blueberries being the others). Long before the Pilgrims arrived in 1620 CE, the North American Indians combined crushed cranberries with dried deer meat and melted fat to make pemmican, a food that would keep for a long time.
  6. ^ Suttle, Wayne P.; Lane, Barbara (1990-08-20). "South Coast Salish". In Sturtevant, William C. (ed.). Handbook of North American Indians. 7. Northwest coast. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 485–500. ISBN 978-0-16-020390-9. (v. 7).
  7. ^ Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, On Agriculture (Res Rustica), (Loeb Classical Library), Book II page 145
  8. ^ "Pliny the Elder, the Natural History, BOOK I.<a id="note-link1" href="#note1">1</a>, DEDICATION. <a href="#note-link1">1</a> Lemaire informs us, in his title-page, that the two first books of the Natural History are edited by M. Alexandre, in his edition.

  9. ^ Diamond 1999, p. 100
  10. ^ "Curry, Spice & All Things Nice: Dawn of History".
  11. ^ Osmond, Meredith (1998). "Horticultural practices" (PDF). In Ross, Malcolm; Pawley, Andrew; Osmond, Meredith (eds.). The lexicon of Proto Oceanic : The culture and environment of ancestral Oceanic society. Vol. 1: Material Culture. Pacific Linguistics. pp. 115–142. doi:10.15144/PL-C152.115.
  12. ^ Walter, Annie; Lebot, Vincent (2007). Gardens of Oceania. IRD Éditions-CIRAD. ISBN 9781863204705.
  13. ^ O'Brien, Patrick K. (General Editor). Oxford Atlas of World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. pp.22-23
  14. ^ Khoury, C.K.; Achicanoy, H.A.; Bjorkman, A.D.; Navarro-Racines, C.; Guarino, L.; Flores-Palacios, X.; Engels, J.M.M.; Wiersema, J.H.; Dempewolf, H.; Sotelo, S.; Ramírez-Villegas, J.; Castañeda-Álvarez, N.P.; Fowler, C.; Jarvis, A.; Rieseberg, L.H.; Struik, P.C. (2016). "Origins of food crops connect countries worldwide". Proc. R. Soc. B. 283 (1832): 20160792. doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.0792. PMC 4920324.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)