It may be the quintessential fast food, but a McDonald's Big Mac meal actually contains more than 20 different plant species from all corners of the world, South African scientists have said.
As part of a study into globalised nature of the human diet, researchers at Stellenbosch University analysed the ingredients of a Big Mac burger, fries and coffee and concluded it was "an apt symbol of globalisation".
"From potatoes that were first domesticated in South America to mustard that was developed in India, onions and wheat that originated in the Middle East and coffee from Ethiopia, we found the meal contained approximately 20 different species that originate from all around the world," the study concluded.
John Wilson, one of the research leaders, said the findings showed modern diets were becoming more varied than those found in traditional societies. "That a single meal contains about 20 species is impressive, given that some human societies -those that are largely unaffected by current globalisation trend - commonly include only 50 to 100 plant species in their entire diet," said the researchers, whose findings are published in the journal BioScience.
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