Grain, meat and vegetables to feed Paris: where did and do they come from? Localising Paris food supply areas from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century

The food supply to a large metropolis such as Paris involves huge fluxes of goods, which considerably impact the surrounding rural territories. Here, we present an attempt to localise Paris food supply areas, over a period of two centuries (1786, 1886, 2006), based on the analysis of data from transportation and production statistics for cereals, animal products, and fruits and vegetables, all three categories being expressed in terms of their nitrogen (i.e. protein) content. The results show contrasting trends for the three types of agricultural products. As for cereals, the Paris supply area remained for the most part restricted to the central area of the Paris basin, a region which gradually became specialised in intensive cereal produc- tion. Conversely, as animal farming had been progressively excluded from this area, regions located west and north of Paris (Brittany, Normandy, Nord-Pas-de-Calais) gradually dominated the supply of animal products to the metropolis. In addition, imported feed from South America today contributes as much as one-third of the total ration of feed in the livestock raised in these regions. For fruits and vegetables, about one-half of the Paris supply currently comes from long-distance imports, the other half coming from areas less than 200 km from Paris. As a whole, the Paris food supply area, although it has obviously enlarged in recent periods, is still anchored to an unexpected extent (about 50%) in its traditional nearby hinterland roughly coinciding with the Seine watershed, and in the regions specialised in animal farming located west and north. On he other hand, the agricultural system of the main food supply areas has considerably opened to global markets.


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