Wine Worlds

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Wine is produced commercially in more than 70 countries, three of which account for almost half of the world’s production: France, Italy and Spain. What else does a closer look at the world of wine tell us?

Map of wine production in the world
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The geography of wine – the product obtained exclusively from the total or partial fermentation of fresh grapes – can be viewed both from the perspective of producers or consumers. Continue reading

Under the spreading chestnut trees

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” has become a popular notion of Christmas ever since Tormé and Wells wrote their Christmas Song, made famous by Nat King Cole‘s recording in 1946. The chestnut has seen a decline in use over the centuries in Europe, having been brand-marked as ‘food for poor people’. But almost all across the continent (likewise in North America) it now also sees a revival in popularity in Winter time, especially around Christmas. Global chestnut production has constantly been rising, growing from almost 650,000 tons in 1993 to over 2 million tons in 2013 according to FAOSTAT figures. And while the chestnuts roasting on an open fire have their origin in the United States, chestnuts consumed there have often traveled a long way. Although growing conditions are ideal, the USA have no significant chestnut industry and account for less than 1% of the global chestnut production. This is different in Europe where commercial chestnut farming takes place in the Mediterranean, which, however, is challenged by the now top chestnut producer China. China now produced almost 85% of the world’s chestnuts.
The following gridded cartogram is a visualisation of the areas in the world where chestnuts are grown. Using data produced by EarthStat the map shows each grid cell resized according to the total amount of chestnuts produced in that area:

Map of World Chestnut Production
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European Agricultural Spending

The EU27 is history, with Croatia becoming the 28th member state of the European Union today. On last week’s European Council meeting, the ‘old’ members had other issues in mind, as the common agricultural policy (CAP) was one of the critical issues in negotiating a new seven year budget. The proposed changes in subsidies in this field of spending are quite important, as this part of the EU policies started a process of considerable changes in the agricultural landscapes in Europe over the years. The area of spending is not least relevant, as together with the rural development funding agriculture counts for almost 40% of the budget (see this map series about EU spending for more details).
The agreements that were reached are also significant, as the agricultural budget mainly serves the economically and politically strongest countries in the European Union. The following cartogram shows the redistribution of spending on the agricultural markets within the EU27 in 2011 (the most recent data available from the European Commission), which counts for €44,898 million of the overall €129,394 million budget:

Cartogram of European Agricultural Spending
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A World Map of Organic Agriculture

Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved. (IFOAM 2009)

The practice of organic farming is not only relevant for soothing the bad conscience of wealthier societies, but it plays an important role in preserving croplands from degradation that is often caused by conventional intensive methods of farming. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recognised this need and set up the Organic Agriculture Programme. Its objective is “to enhance food security, rural development,sustainable livelihoods and environmental integrity by building capacities of member countries in organic production, processing, certification and marketing“. With a still growing world population and the rising demand for food, more sensible (and thus sustainable) ways of agriculture are needed more than ever to stop damage to the world’s arable lands.
In a joint paper published last year in the European Journal of Social Sciences (Vol. 24, Issue 3) John Paull and I presented a new world map of organic agriculture that presents countries as proportional in size to their share of the total of world organic hectares (data sources are described in the paper, reference see below):

Cartogram / World Map of Organic Agriculture
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Global Spaces of Food Production

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Global Spaces of Food Production
In the year 2000 there were approximately 15 million square km of cropland and 28 million square km of pasture which are represented in the two main maps. These are equal to 12% respectively 22% of the ice-free land surface. This is according to estimates of a study on the geographic distribution of global agricultural lands by Ramankutty et al (published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2008) who used a methodology of combining agricultural inventory data and satellite-derived land cover data to come to these figures (data can be accessed via Columbia University’s SEDAC). Continue reading