Dear Globalization: Thanks For The Edamame

Photo: iStockphoto

We took our visiting 12-year-old granddaughter out to dinner last night, and she insisted on ordering edamame, which I too love.  I discovered it at age 60 and would never have seen it in the U.S. at age 12 in 1955.  Earlier in the day, I had bought a cherimoya at the local grocery store. These examples illustrate an additional benefit of globalization — the import of new foods and, more important perhaps, information on and even local growing of different foods. Since there’s evidence that variety increases utility, this expansion is an additional, typically unacknowledged benefit of globalization. I wonder how many other foods simply did not exist in the U.S. 50 years ago?


Bananas! They're a little older, but didn't hit mass appeal in the USA until the 20th century! So ubiquitous now!


What do you think of Barry Schwartz saying that actually "More is Less"??? Sometimes having too much to choose from leaves you with a bitter taste of "did I choose correctly?"

Mike D

Granted, I grew up in a small Ohio town, but I remember thinking shrimp was a luxury food until the early 90s, and Red Lobster was a once-a-year treat. I think domestic supply chains have revolutionized food consumption just as much as globalization.


Edamame (soybeans) have a long history in the US.
"A number of states were active in the early 1900s with soybeans....."
You only recently discovered them? Hmmm


Seems like eating edamame is a cultural phenomenon more than anything. In the US, soy beans are a huge cash crop along with corn and wheat.


I used to eat these out of the farm field next to my dad's house 25 years ago. We called them Soy Beans. I think globalization may have changed our marketing more than anything.


Sriracha would be a good example of both a benefit, benefactor from globalization.


I think green tea is pretty recent too.


It's great... if you get fruit. In Brazil we got McDonalds... So it's not an exactly balanced excahnge.


And the beef in your McD's is probably from your razed rainforest too.


Hehe I recently read a piece from the 1980s when the women who sell vegetables in an outdoor market in Dublin introduced new goods like kiwi fruit and peppers. They thought they were being very cosmopolitan and advanced to be selling what you can find in any tiny rural grocery shop today.

When I came home from Japan in 2008 I had a hankering for the Japanese confectionary I'd left behind and was delighted to discover I could order it from the UK. Globalisation rocks in this regard! I only wish it would speed up so we could fill vending machines with delicious Japanese tea and coffee drinks instead of the sickly sweet soft drinks we have now.


My boss told me that she remembers a time when there was no kiwi fruit in Canada. Funny how foreign things can so quickly become part of our national diet.

John Carroll

This is an insight I have thought about many times. It is probably even more important in Britain, where, to my mind, the native food was virtually inedible as recently as the early 1980s -- but now, Albion is a veritable cornucopia for gourmands, with global food offerings in every other restaurant, in every convenience store and grocers.


On the other hand, you might look into the number of once fairly common foods, native to temperate climes, that aren't eaten any more. Quince, for instance.


The globalization of goods in 50 years has greatly increased the demand, supply, and substitution of goods. Since America has been introduced to many new goods, the demand for these goods has gone up tremendously. I love sushi and will eat it whenever I got the chance. Today it seems that the demand for sushi is very high. 50 years ago, sushi was basically nonexistent in mainstream society, making the demand for that food very low. Since the demand for sushi and other goods have risen because of globalization, the supply of those goods have also increased due to the law of supply. Another effect of globalization of goods in the past 50 years has also increased the availability of substitutes. Now if a certain good's price spikes tremendously, the consumer has a multitude of other goods (originally from other areas of the world) that they can substitute. For example, there are sushi restaurants and sushi carriers everywhere. If the price to go out to dinner to eat sushi is too expensive, I can try to find another restaurant or even go to the grocery store and buy some sushi to-go. Globalization has had a positive effect on the demand, supply, and substitution of many goods and will continue to have a positive effect as more goods are introduced into society.



Is it globalization or the rise in the Asian & Latin American populations for the past 20 years? I don't think there would have been the initial demand of these new foods had it not been a population increases.