Agriculture and Food

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About
In countries of the modern industrialized world, supermarkets brim full with colourful displays of fruits, vegetables, and many other products from around the globe are part of everyday life. But this astonishing variety, and the great choice of foods it offers, is the result of very recent changes in agricultural production and international trade. Prior to the modern era, the daily diet of most people came from the agricultural produce of their local region. This pattern of regionally differentiated agricultural systems, each with its distinctive set of crops and domesticated animals, had evolved over many millennia from the time, some 10,000 years ago, when hunting and gathering (foraging) began to give way to agriculture (farming). In the core regions where agriculture first emerged, regional cuisines based on local produce developed, and crops and livestock of local origin later began to spread from one region to another, thus making new foods available and adding diversity to local diets.