The Biodiversity of Your Refrigerator: An exercise in food origins


  • Nat Bletter


Students often have little idea of where the food they eat
every day originates and which of their staple foods come
from their ancestral homelands. By doing a quick, simple
inventory of the origins of the foods and ingredients
in their refrigerators, students can become much more
aware of whether they are eating predominantly their native
foods or the foods of their adopted country. This exercise
ties into a series of pertinent topics of current concern:
the global food supply, the distance food must travel
from farm to table, nutrition, and changes of diets through
history. The exercise was assigned to a class of nineteen
students from ten countries (China, Cuba, Dominican
Republic, Ecuador, Jamaica, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines,
Puerto Rico, and United States) to fully test it. Although
not statistically significant with this small sample size, one
interesting yet non-significant trent that emerged was that
students who had been in the U.S. longer were using fewer
foods from their ancestral area and more foods from
their adopted area (Northeastern U.S.), while increasing
their food family diversity.




How to Cite

Bletter, N. (2007). The Biodiversity of Your Refrigerator: An exercise in food origins. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 5, 233–240. Retrieved from