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Sourcing the American Diet

Jul 12, 2017

We’ve considered the quintessential elements of American cuisine and asked: where does this stuff come from? Literally, where do the ingredients in America’s favorite foods come from? Hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pepperoni pizza, PB&J, hot wings, guacamole, fried rice, French fries, apple pie—they’re all part of our assessment of food sourcing trends in America. We base our conclusions on national and international statistics on production volume, either from crops or manufacturing facilities.

Take apple pie, which comprises the following ingredients: apples, butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Americans source our apples from Washington, our butter from California, our sugar from Florida, and our flour from North Dakota. But cinnamon? That’s outsourced: Most of the cinnamon we consume comes from Indonesia.

Another quintessential American culinary staple: fruit salad. And yet, some of the main ingredients—cantaloupe and bananas—are not sourced from the USA. If you’re ordering those fruits in your salad, you’re getting them from Guatemala. You’re also getting your pineapple from Costa Rica and your green seedless grapes from Chile.

But blueberries and strawberries? Those are as American as it gets—from Washington and California, respectively.

A few American standbys source their classic ingredients from a longtime neighbor: Mexico. When you chow down on s’mores, for example, you’re likely eating graham crackers and chocolate sourced from just south of Estados Unidos. And when you wet your whistle, the limes and lemons that garnish your martinis and margaritas are likely of Mexican origin.

A few all-American options remain. A cheeseburger, for example, qualifies. Lettuce and tomates, California; white onion, Idaho; hamburger bun, Illinois; cheddar cheese, Wisconsin; ketchup, Ohio; mustard, Missouri; and the all-beef patty, sourced from the great state of Texas.

Pizza, too, has basically fully assimilated: It’s way more American these days than it is Italian. If you have one stateside, you’re likely eating mozzarella from Wisconsin; salt, from Illinois; sugar, from Florida; yeast, from Mississippi; pepperoni, from Minnesota; and flour, from North Dakota.

But: If you want a healthy drizzle of olive oil on your pie, then you’re likely receiving that dollop from a product sourced from Spain. Just so you know.

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