When more means less
Food seems to be as unlimited and diverse as ever before. When we go to the store there is a nearly endless choice of every type of food. But is it really as diverse as it seems? Well, not quite so. You see, all around the world the number of supermarkets is growing rapidly, even more so in developing countries. And they all tend to sell the same. Thus, supermarkets need a huge supply of the same products. That leads them to favor a few individual crops so that their offer is uniform, stores well and is easy to market. So there is a lot of food in different packages, but the content is identical! What does it mean for biodiversity?
The most produced crops in the world are sugar cane, maize, wheat and rice.
There has been a “supermarket revolution” in developing countries because the number of them has grown incredibly fast. In the 1990s only 5% of food was sold in supermarkets. Today it is over 50%!
Standardization is when supermarkets dictate what size and shape fruit and vegetables must have. This not only results in a loss in diversity but is also a major cause of food wastage.
In Africa traditional crops like millet and sorghum are declining, whereas the share of maize is increasing. Maize was introduced from the Americas and although it is less drought resistant than traditional crops, it is taking over the market.