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Fruity London – Mapping where London gets its fruit from with fruit

September 1, 2012

To celebrate Mission:Explore Food (our new book) being released today, we decided to go on a little mission in London. A group of us met at Stanford’s Travel before splitting into three teams. Our mission was to harvest as many different varieties of fruit as we could, meeting just 3 hours later at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. One team went to markets in East Ham, another to Brixton and the final team to Borough Market. As well as going to open markets we went into some well known “local” supermarkets too.

Together we managed to gather nearly 150 different varieties off fruit from 6 continents. A lot of food miles.

Our plan was to arrange the fruit into a street-map that represented where in the
world London gets some of its fruits from. We were not looking to create a world map of where food is grown or show how much of different fruits are consumed by the capital, but how many different things come from different places.

This first map shows a single piece of each variety of fruit according to the country it was grown in. The geographic location is very rough, but you should be able to see Britain at the top of the map with Spain to the south, a French melon to the south east and Holland above that. Below Europe, West and Central Africa are empty but East and South Africa were the source of many fruits, including lots of apples. A cherry and a couple of berries came from North America, very little compared to the papaya,  banana, apples, mango, pineapple and much more from South America. Can you spot the Kiwi?

The second street-map we made was inspired by Worldmapper and Views of the World cartograms, with everything bunched-up and “places” where fruit did not come from disappearing. Africa looks very different. Can you spot Mauritius?

When doing a mission like this it’s virtually impossible to not reflect on the people who produce fruits and question the food system that we’re a part of.

Thanks to everyone who came along and enjoyed this mission with us! It was fascinating discovering, nibbling and playing with so many new fruits together. I’m already looking forward to the next Mission:Explore Food exploration.

Inspired by many of the missions in Mission:Explore Food, the fruit used in today’s mission is now being eaten raw, cooked into jam and frozen into smoothies. Om nom nom.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2012 18:55

    Love it! Maybe this mission is one for the Primary Geography article? Maybe it has or will inspire another mission that might be written up for this purpose? I’m excited to think we could be spoilt for choice because of all the ‘foodie’ missions in the book and inevitable permutations.

    • September 2, 2012 09:14

      That sounds like a great idea. We should talk again…

  2. September 2, 2012 13:25

    I hope you ate it all afterwards! :-)

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