Where Does our Food Come From?

A diversity of food is vital for our health. Different taste, colours, and textures also makes our food an enjoyable part of our everyday lives. In modern society, we often take this diversity for granted. Whether fruits, veggies our meat, most of these foods were not originally available to us. They came from lands hundreds or even thousand kilometers away.

Virtually all of the foods we eat today– our major crops and most livestock species – have their origins in the tropics and subtropics of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. Scientists have identified at least twelve major geographic “centres of diversity” – regions, or hotspots, that harbor a disproportionately high percentage of all plant, livestock, and cultural diversity.

Our farming ancestors are responsible for the priceless genetic variability that we depend on to breed resistance to new pests and diseases, and to survive climate extremes. Today, all of us depend on crop and livestock diversity that originated elsewhere, but most agricultural biodiversity is still concentrated in the global South where it is increasingly threatened.

The way to safeguard our food supply is by protecting these centres of diversity, as well as using and continuing to adapt the plant and genetic diversity carefully bred and nurtured by farmers.

What are Centres of Diversity?

Centres of diversity refer to both regions where crops and livestock were originally domesticated from their wild ancestors (regions of true origin) as well as regions of subsequent spread where they are continually evolving a diversity of new varieties and traits through ongoing adaptation to their environment and selection by farmers- that’s why a specific crop can be listed in more than one centre of diversity.

Find out Where Our Food Comes From

Seedmap.org gives you two ways to find out more about where our food came from:

1) Interactive Seed Map PictureBrowse the Interactive Online Seed Map:



2) Seed Map Poster_Where Did our Food Come From Download and print our Where Does our Food Come From? poster. It’s a great tool to visually see where the 12 major centres of diversity are located as well as which main crops and livestock originated there.