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NYU Student Research: Food and Trade Report

Research Papers
Maggie Craig, Joy Lee, Jessyca Pierre, and Nicole Ross are students at New York University. They compiled the following report in May 2006.

That the world's countries, cultures, and individuals are different is a fact; yet inherent in the vast differences are similarities that unite us all. In our contribution to the 100 People Project, we sought to identify some of these similarities in the realm of food, because if there is one thing that every culture has in common, it is that food plays a role in daily life. By researching the forty-nine countries being documented, we revealed statistics relating to both cultural values and economic statuses. Delineating food as the common element between countries, we found a way to analyze not how countries differ, but instead, what similarities tie them together. During our research we were able to identify and string together the global trends that will help to springboard this project to new heights, allowing the audience another snapshot of how the world's countries and communities function on a daily basis.

Our goal was to identify global trends rather than specific details, and thus analyzing general similarities concerning regional food consumption was beneficial. For example, the most commonly consumed vegetable is the potato, and while most cultures tend to incorporate potatoes into their respective flavor profiles, the method of incorporation for this food item (and all others) varies greatly as you travel across the world. Americans may favor frying potatoes into French Fries, while those in Ireland boil them. The fact remains that the potato is foundational staple in both countries and throughout the world. Further, the similarities between countries denotes a mutual reliance amongst nations, each filling its own niche in the world market in terms of importing and exporting to meet the demands of another. While every individual country has adapted to its specific environment and adjusted its culture and economics accordingly, the one element that remains consistent is food. Whether it is lack of food, overabundance of food, or specific food items, people must eat - and it is this fact that most strongly and inevitably continues to unite the world.