Over the last 10 years, the role food plays in the world of travel has evolved from cast extra to starring role. It’s a phenomenon that has been fueled by everything from shows such as the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations,” to a glut of culinary travel stories in the consumer media, to foodie pics from around the world flooding our social media feeds.

A decade ago, “you had a situation where food tourism wasn’t really [on the map],” said Erik Wolf, who founded the World Food Travel Association in Portland, Ore., in 2003. Today, “it’s something where journalists around the world are writing about it. It’s really gotten quite big.”

Wolf estimates that food tourism has grown into a $150 billion industry annually, a figure the association came up with based on internal research.

Photo Credit: Tourists flock to Barcelona's famous fruit and meat markets on Las Ramblas. Gaby Kaminsky / Flickr