The importance of knowing where your food comes from. It’s generally not important for survival purposes. If it’s edible, people will give it a shot..
Many people, however, do like to know more things about their lives and the things that fill it. It can be as trivial as what the plant that produces looks like or is related to, or about what part of an animal a particular cut of meat comes from.
More critically today, knowing the source-country of a foodstuff might be of importance, as well as from which manufacturer, for processed foods. Food contamination, whether in the field or in the factory, is, as it has always been, a fact of life. Efforts are made to keep food supply chains free of problems, there are failures. Some countries are noted for their lack of food safety controls, so knowing where a particular food comes from can be very useful information.
Some of the questions people generally ask – How was the chicken raised? How was the grain grown? Is there genetic engineering involved? Where the used seeds GMO’s? Is it 100% Organic? Is it a heritage variety? Do you have a good relationship with the producers? Is the crop grown locally?
Reasons to know from where the food comes from.
- Eating local means a smaller carbon footprint – Eating locally means your food doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate, less travel means less carbon emissions negatively impacting the environment. How big is the difference? Well, according to a study for Sustainable Agriculture, a local carrot has to travel only 35 kilometers while a conventionally sourced carrot has to travel more than a 1000 kilometers to get to your plate. Eating local also means money stays in your local economy and businesses in your neighborhood can thrive and offer products and services that fit your community’s needs and wants.
- Knowing what you are putting into your body and your family’s bodies – An old saying goes “You are,what you eat”. Buying packaged and processed food means that you are buying a bunch of ‘extras’ that you may not want to be consuming. Take a look at an ingredients list. Shelf stable and processed foods typically translate into preservatives, dangerous trans fats, loads of sodium and sugars. On the other hand, fresh, made from scratch, whole foods most often times mean clean eating.
- Knowing where your food comes from bridges the gap between farm to table – Having this connection develops a healthy relationship with food allowing people to appreciate and respect that food is not indispensable. It allows for the understanding of how vegetables are grown, how cows are raised, or how whole wheat flour is produced and accentuates that eating shouldn’t be a fast mindless action but rather an experience which also nourishes the body. Improving the relationship people have with food can in turn improve the way people eat and their overall health
We each play a part in this debate. And there are things that we each can do everyday. Here are a few things that you and your family can put into action.
– Learn about some of the history that created our modern food system. We recommend “An Edible History of Humanity” by Tom Stand age, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, “Organic Manifesto: How Organic Food Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe” by Maria Rodale.
– Meet a farmer. Ask them why they do different things on their farm. It makes for a great family outing.
– Tour an agribusiness or research company. They aren’t always open to the public for tours, but school groups and educational groups regularly take tours. Try to accompany one of them.
– Buy things in season. This helps minimize transportation costs and can be healthier and more flavorful produce.
– Take a cooking class and learn how to prepare more things at home. This can be a lot of fun and you’ll have more ownership in what you eat.
– Ask questions! The more you know, the better.