Leveraging Globalization to Revive Traditional Foods

  •  Jena Trolio    
  •  Molly Eckman    
  •  Khanjan Mehta    


Traditional foods are important to the sustainability of their native regions because they are often keystone assets to food security, economic stability, and quality nutrition. Globalization of agricultural markets, changing lifestyles, and rural-to-urban migration has contributed to the gradual loss of traditional foods in developing countries. The transition from traditional foods to imported refined carbohydrates, sugars, and edible oils has promoted nutrient deficiency, economic instability, and food insecurity. While the effects of globalization have been largely negative for indigenous foods, globalization is inevitable and has potentially useful aspects. Local champions and international supporters can leverage specific technologies and market patterns brought about or influenced by globalization to revive culinary traditions, strengthen local food systems, and bolster indigenous livelihoods. Such approaches include helping farmers benefit from technological advances in efficiency and economy of scale, biotechnology, post-harvest processing, and smart infrastructure combined with ethically-conscious food sourcing. Trends such as human migration, exotic food fads, interest in nutritious and organic foods, the rise of social media, and agricultural extension and education can also support improvements in local agricultural products and their globalizing markets. Collectively, these efforts can help revive sustainable traditional food production and enhance the lives and livelihoods of indigenous communities.

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