Many international cuisines can't even be called anymore. Globalization has opened up the enormous diversity of food cultures around the world. Many international cuisines can no longer even be called foreign in major cities around the world, with endless options, from Peruvian food trucks in New York City to Michelin-starred French restaurants in Hong Kong. Most of the food we eat today is the product of globalization, often trade and connections that began centuries before the term was used.
The next time you eat one of the foods highlighted in the following articles, imagine what life would be like if that food had never left your country of origin. The complexity of interactions and the potential for gains and losses are particularly relevant to nutrition, since nutritional problems lie on a spectrum that ranges from undernutrition to overnutrition. The processes of globalization that operate along the food supply chain have different effects on different parts of the spectrum. These processes can offer opportunities to address malnutrition by increasing incomes and making food cheaper, but, in doing so, they introduce risks of overnutrition.
Alternatively, they may benefit from insufficient and excessive nutrition by increasing the diversity of foods available for consumption. Or they can harm both by generating inequality and exclusion, making an adequate and healthy food supply accessible only to the rich. Stores have proven to be fundamental for the spread of junk foods; they are the means by which national and transnational food companies sell and promote their food to the poorest populations in small towns and rural communities. Policies designed to integrate the global food market—in agriculture, trade, FDI and promotional marketing—have been developed in the economic sphere, but they influence food consumption patterns.
Food cultures have really spread to the point that you can now find Mexican restaurants in Northern Thailand, Japanese sushi in the Middle East, and all-American cheeseburgers served in a street food cart in a small, remote Amazon city. Promotions of highly processed, energy-dense foods are aggressively aimed at young people, with the aim of influencing food consumption patterns that will last into adulthood. This liberalization of the agricultural market has made it possible to increase and diversify food trade, increase foreign investment and expand transnational food companies (TFC). The desired result is greater economic efficiency, a more uniform food supply, lower production costs and, in theory, cheaper food.
Thanks to their size and capital base, supermarkets can offer a much wider range of processed foods than stores and convenience stores, and assume the risks inherent in introducing new foods. Adaptation, on the other hand, is driven by the demand for time, the increase in exposure to advertising, the availability of new foods and the emergence of new food outlets.