In These Colorful ‘Food Maps,’ Nations Are What They Eat

The United States made of corn, Italy composed of tomatoes—these maps use ingredients to show countries’ staples.

Food for thought: How does one ingredient become linked to one place?

That’s one question artists Henry Hargreaves and Caitlin Levin had in mind when they hatched their “food map” series—a collection of country and continent maps made using ingredients synonymous with those regions. Think India rendered in spices, New Zealand in kiwifruit, South America in citrus.

In some of these cases and in many others around the globe, the foods most commonly associated with a place aren’t actually native to that spot. Tomatoes, for example, come from South America, yet today they’re an integral part of Italian cuisine. That association began before 1548, says Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, when “the first written account of a tomato outside of the Americas was documented—in Tuscany.”

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