Following the Food Trail
A recent study commissioned by Farmers Feed Cities revealed that consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of farming, yet younger generations are relatively unaware of where their food is grown. According to the survey, 97 per cent of Ontarians agree that farming is important to the province’s economic strength, health and wellbeing and sustainable environmental future. Yet, only 41 per cent of people within the 18-34 age group seem to be aware of where their food is grown.
Do you think that finding is significant? Does it matter whether or not we know where food comes from as long as it’s safe to eat?
I have to say that I do think it’s important to know where it comes from, and not just because I want to know whether the animals (we can include fruit and vegetables too!) were humanely treated. I want to know how the workers were treated too. I want to know what kind of pesticides, antibiotics, genetic modifications, etc were performed on the food I’m eating. Just as important, though, is the knowledge of origins. Food doesn’t suddenly materialize all ready-packed at the grocery store. That chicken leg that’s on sale this week came from a whole somewhere. Has our interest level in food diminished to the same level as our interest in cars. In other words, most people don’t really care where a car was actually made. Somehow it appears at the dealership, and our questions about it revolve around some future use — will it be a comfortable ride? How many people does it seat? What’s its gas consumption? All valid questions, of course. We ask similar, future-use, questions about food. What will this chicken leg taste like if I cook it in a spicy chili sauce? What wine should I serve with it?
Comparing how we negotiate our relationships to cars and chickens is not actually as silly as it may seem at first. When we understand where both come from and the processes involved in bringing each to us we’re confronted with information about the state of our environment and our health. Is it all good or not? What should we do about it?
I can’t say for sure that asking and answering the questions that come up when we make these investigations will change the world. But, aren’t you the least bit interested in finding out? I definitely am.