For most people, the modern grocery store represents a grand, highly organized marketplace to shop for daily food necessities.
But few question where the food is actually produced, other than from the traditionally instilled images of farms and factories.
As the U.S. population has grown in size and ethnic diversity, the quantity and variety of food imported has steadily increased.
From 1990 to 2009, the share of food imports relative to total U.S. food consumption rose from 11 to 17 percent. Seafood, plant products and alcohol represent some of the largest import shares.
Although not exclusive, the majority of U.S. food imports come from our neighboring countries, Canada and Mexico. Here is a list of some of the other major contributing countries based on food group:
- Fruits and vegetables: Chile, China, and Costa Rica
- Red meat: Australia and New Zealand
- Coffee: Brazil and Colombia
- Fish: India, China, Thailand, and Indonesia
Some food imports are produced in foreign countries by U.S. corporations, such as Dole pineapples, Del Monte canned fruit, or Chiquita bananas.
Still, a greater percentage of U.S. agricultural products are grown in the United States. Foods with the highest proportion of domestic production include poultry meat and eggs, milk and other dairy products, and bulk grains, but it doesn’t stop there:
- Midwest states such as Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska produce most of the grain and corn sold in the United States.
- Southeast states such as Georgia, North Carolina, and Arkansas produce most of the poultry and eggs sold in the United States.
- California, Wisconsin, and New York produce most of the milk and dairy products sold in the United States.
Although family farms make up almost 90 percent of cattle and chicken farms, they account a lesser supply of the beef and poultry (62 percent for beef, 31 percent for poultry). Corporations, in contrast, make up only 4 percent of farms, but account for a larger supply of beef and poultry (20 percent for beef, 52 percent for poultry).
The consumption of food will always be an essential function in our daily lives. Therefore, it is highly important to educate ourselves on where our food is produced before considering whether or not it is safe to consume.
Think before you eat!