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British Food Origins

By: James Murray-White - Updated: 14 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Food Origins Conditions Situation Crop

'Food origins' means the place and the situation that the food on your plate came from. As well as its origination – where your corn was grown or where your cod was caught or where the beef on your fork was raised, it also refers to the package of conditions surrounding its growth or cultivation. These might include:

  • Was it grown organically (i.e. without the use of fertilizers and pesticides) or non-organically;
  • Was it grown in natural conditions (i.e. I a field), or non-natural (in a greenhouse for instance, or a polytonal, or even as a genetically-modified crop);
  • What was the intended market for the crop (i.e. for host country use or export);
  • Is the crop grown within its normal growing season.

Tracing the Origins of your Food

If a consumer cares about the food they eat, and as a consequence of that, their own health; then it is important to know the origins of the food available, and that which you regularly buy.According to UK food laws, all food must now have a 'place of origin' sticker or sign either attached to it or the packaging, or be clearly visible nearby. This is in addition to information pertaining to:

  • The food's name (if it not obvious)
  • It's ingredients
  • The nutritional information (not a law, but should be written in support of any nutritional claims made by the manufacturer or supplier)
  • Date tagging, which includes both a 'use by' date and a 'best before' datethe weight of the food
  • Any necessary storage information, i.e 'in a cool dark place, away from light or damp'

The Customer Knows Best: Ethics and Consumer Power

All this information about the origin and conditions of an item of food is designed to serve the customer, and provide them with enough information to decide whether or not to buy the item.

It may not be enough information, and the customer has the reasonable right to ask the shopkeeper or supplier further information, about say, where the food item was grown or how it was made, before making any purchasing decision. The ethics of the growing conditions may be an issue, for instance. If a customer has reason to believe people were exploited economically in the food's production, as it might be speculated about coffee growers in some regions of the world for instance; then the customer should investigate this further and ask the seller to satisfy them with evidence this was not the case.

Fair Trade for All

The 'Fair Trade' logo exists on a range of food sold in many food suppliers nowadays.This serves to reassure customers that the sale of the food, be it bananas, coffee, or chocolate cake, benefits not only the end of the line retailer (the supermarket, corner shop keeper), but the grower and harvester of the raw food material, 'the little guy', in other words.

This ethical reassurance should serve to show the consumer that that the food they chose has safe and ethical origins. It was grown and produced in good conditions, and the consumer can buy with confidence.

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