From innovative Incan terraces on steep mountain slopes where potatoes and peppers flourish in Peru’s iconic Andes range, to the vast pampas of Argentina where the legendary gauchos herd cattle on horseback, to prolific coffee plantations in Brazil’s subtropical southeastern states, and to equally unique destinations in between, South America abounds with places where a tremendous variety of great food is produced for locals and the world.
Boasting an area of 6,890,000 square miles, South America is home to an estimated 387.5 million people. This mostly Southern hemisphere continent ranks fourth in area (after Asia, Africa, and North America) and fifth in population (after Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America).
“South America is strong in natural resources for food production,” says Marisa Caipo, PhD, the Santiago, Chile-based food safety officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). “The continent is also strong in innovative approaches on the part of large food exporters, as they typically respond positively and efficiently to trends in global food markets.”
South America’s unique characteristics include a great diversity of food products, including super foods, like quinoa, amaranth, purple corn, and acai berries, Dr. Caipo continues. “What’s more, food is produced in different seasons here than in Northern hemisphere continents, and this contributes favorably to the consistency of foreign food supplies year-round,” she points out. “Spanish is a common language in South America and throughout the LAC region, which makes communications feasible among stakeholders.”
South American countries export a wide variety of foods to the U.S., including fresh fruits, salmon, beef, wine, and coffee, among others, says Jairo Romero Torres, MS, a Bogota, Colombia-based food engineer and international consultant on food safety risk management and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. To that end, he too boasts that some of the strengths and unique characteristics of South American products are that they are delicious and available in the U.S. off-season. “They also travel shorter distances than foods coming from other continents, so they are fresher, and some of them have very attractive prices,” he adds, noting that “the seriousness of most of our exporters is well appreciated in the U.S. markets.”
About Linda L. Leake, MS
Linda L. Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, registered SQF contract auditor, and award-winning freelance journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Specializing in agriculture, food, food safety, and travel, her articles have appeared in some 89 print and online publications. Along with garnering awards for her articles and photographs, she holds the prestigious Master Writer status with American Agricultural Editors’ Association. Majoring in Dairy Science, she completed a BS in Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Food Safety at Michigan State University. She’s an active member of IAFP, Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc., and the National Dairy Shrine. She’s currently enrolled in the International Development Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reach her at Llleake@aol.com.