Where Food Really Comes From

April 29, 2011 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Herb Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

©Photo by Margarida Correia. See caption at bottom of article.

Where does your food come from?  For a really good answer, get yourself to the Brooklyn Botanic’s Herb Garden.

The new garden traces the origin of many of the world’s food crops.

The potatoes we pick up at the supermarket or the farmers market?  They began their journey a much longer time ago than we ever would have imagined, in places we never would have guessed.  The humble tuber started in — no, not Europe — but in South America 10,000 years ago in Peru.

What about tomatoes?  If you guessed Italy, you’re wrong.  They also originated in South America.

Hot peppers? No, not Thailand.  They’re South American too.  

The garden gives visitors a good helping of food for thought, showing the provenance of vegetables, herbs and to a lesser extent fruits throughout the world.  It explores, as the curator aptly puts it, “the global journey our food plants have taken to get to our plates.”

On a recent sunny day, visitors appeared to be just as well traveled.  The garden morphed into a mini United Nations, a place where people of different colors, religions and cultural backgrounds, —  blacks, whites, Asians, Jews, Muslims, you name it – found common ground.  In the very spot where a Latin American family talked excitedly about “manzanilla” – or chamomile – an earlier guest remarked: “I just think of it as tea, not a plant.”

That’s the magic of the things we grow for food.  They do more than feed us.  They bring and bind us together, no matter how diverse our world views.

Caption for photo above:  The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new Herb Garden explores the origin of the world’s food crops.


Entry filed under: Community Gardens, Global Issues, Local Food Production, Urban Agriculture. Tags: , , .

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