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The Economics of Food: How Feeding and Fueling the Planet Affects Food Prices by Patrick Westhoff

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Appendix: Food 101

What Do People Eat?

Consumers visiting the local supermarket are offered a dazzling array of foods from all over the world. In spite of the diversity, an incredibly large proportion of the world’s food is derived from a handful of basic crops.

There is no single best way to add up all the various foods in the world. It’s not just a matter of comparing apples and oranges; it’s also a matter of adding bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes; beer and pizza. One way to add up things that defy adding up is to focus on calories. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates the total amount of food available to consumers and converts it into calories (see Table A.1).1

Foods made from rice and wheat are central ...

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