Regional differences in diet, cuisine and cultures can often be explained by looking at the geographic origins and diversity of crops. Regions that domesticated certain plants or where a high degree of diversity is found typically prepare dishes featuring these foods in local cuisine.
However, crops have travelled the world through historical trade routes, human migration, exploration and colonization. Today, the introduction of fast foods, giant grocery retail chains and the rapid rise in consumption of meat products are having profound impacts on local foods, diet and nutrition worldwide.
Still, the plant and animal diversity found in cooking pots, home gardens and local markets provides the foundation for our world’s richest food cultures and traditions – literally, the spice of life! For many cultures, plants are an important part of spiritual and religious traditions. Important foods are often featured in creation stories, as offerings in ceremonies and in community celebrations of local heritage and history. Whether for daily meals or special occasions, food traditions are the centerpiece of all human cultures.