food

« May 31, 2013

Food: An Atlas

This fascinating compendium of food-related maps was crowdsourced and crowdfunded
Review by MM Pack

Food: An Atlas

edited by Darin Jensen and Molly Roy
Guerrilla Cartography, 172 pp., $30

Darin Jensen is a professor of cartography and geographic information systems at the University of California at Berkeley. He's also a food enthusiast and activist and – perhaps most importantly – a visionary about how to quickly and inexpensively publish a serious book of important information, presented in a lively graphic format.

The result of Jensen's vision is Food: An Atlas, a fascinating, stimulating compendium of 80 maps about various aspects of food across the planet. He contacted the North American Cartographic Information Society, U.S. food policy networks, and food professionals, soliciting maps that graphically display aspects of food production and distribution, food security, and cuisine. Jensen says, "Atlases take a long time; this was an experiment in doing it faster."

Within six months, Jensen had a host of submitted maps; he enlisted an editorial panel of cartographers, food writers, academics, data visualizers, graphic artists, and production people to vet the submissions for accuracy, logic, and good design. About 100 volunteers contributed to the effort.

But the collaborative vision didn't stop there. The project raised more than $29,000 via Kickstarter to publish the book. Copies were distributed to donors (full disclosure: I am one), and the book is now for sale on the Guerrilla Cartography website (www.guerrillacartography.net). Profits are donated to food-related nonprofits chosen by the book's crowd of contributors.

Want to see a map of the U.S. "beer shed," the regions where ingredients used to make beers are grown? It's here. How about a tomato tour of Europe, or a map of the global consumption of spaghetti? Check and check. For local specificity, there's a map of Texas Seafood Landings, contributed by the UT Food Lab's Robyn Metcalfe and Jeff Ingebritsen.

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