What’s in your noodle soup? You may never have heard of it before. Cassava – or tapioca – is a root crop like sweet potato originally from South America, where it is steamed or boiled and eaten as a source of carbohydrate. It appears that Spanish traders introduced the species from Mexico to Southeast Asia in the 19th Century, where it survived drought and high temperatures. It’s still eaten as a root crop in some areas, especially in mountainous areas where few other crops will grow. But today it’s also used in a wide range of other foods and markets, and cassava starch is used to make everything from noodles to sweeteners.
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Authors: Georgina Smith, Ignazio Graziosi, Louis Parker and Kris Wyckhuys
Related links: What’s in your noddle soup?