World food map

Image used with permission from Henry Hargreaves

Corn is the vegetable that artist Henry Hargreaves and stylist Caitlin Levin chose to represent the United States of America in a series of beautiful and playful world maps that use food to represent various countries and continents. Take a look at the artists’ process.

Food Maps from Kiwi and Eagle on Vimeo

I understand why corn in various forms is used on the U.S. map. On average Americans eat more than 31 pounds of corn each year in some form, not counting what they get from high fructose corn syrup. It’s the most subsidized crop grown in the country. Corn in some form is found in three out of four processed foods on our supermarket shelves.

Still, I love real corn. Fresh, whole corn. Jersey-grown corn-on-the-cob that I get from a roadside farm stand that sits right in front of the fields where it grew. When I was growing up, corn was the only food that my parents refused to buy out of season. If it didn’t come from New Jersey, it wasn’t worth eating.

I’d be more than happy to have corn represent my home state of New Jersey on this map. Or tomatoes. We grow some killer tomatoes in the Garden State.

I am not out to bash the artists’ use of corn to represent the whole country in the work any more than I’d bash the use of only cheese and bread to represent France or only tomatoes to represent Italy. People in those countries have a more varied diet of course, just as we do here in the United States. The foods that represent France and Italy, though, in my opinion, are more desirable. But, here in the U.S., we have done this to ourselves. We allow the government to subsidize corn to such an extent that it’s in 75 percent of our packaged foods. We can’t complain when the world takes notice.

But, we can re-imagine. I’m curious. If you could pick the food that represented your state, what would it be? I’m fairly certain those of you in North Dakota would go with something other than corn chips.

You can get a good look at each map at My Modern Met.

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