I want to kick off this blog by chatting a little bit about the big scary world of food. It can be tough navigating a system that is influenced by many powerful factors that determine what foods are available to consumers. As our lives move away from a historically rural lifestyle and move towards an industrialized system, we have been forced to rely on manufacturers to provide us with the majority of our food. I am fortunate to live in a country where food is plentiful and easily accessible to the average person. This is certainly not the case for the larger part of the world. Food choices are influenced by social, political, and religious beliefs, as well as knowledge on nutrition. Canada is a racially and ethnically diverse country. This has a powerful effect on the foods locally available to purchase.
Still, the leading control on the food system is likely from food advertising. Marketing has now expanded to encompass social media, on top of the commercials, billboards, and ads commonly seen before the internet. Marketing also plays a huge role in the way grocery stores are set up in order to entice consumers to purchasing trendy food items. Food advertising as a whole is geared to create the desire for many foods that lack in nutrition, particularly convenient and kid-friendly foods. Manufacturers have also responded to consumers’ growing interest in health and nutrition with the development of fad or health food products, many of which have no nutritional basis to them. These fads are now driven by social media, which makes them difficult to escape from.
When it comes down to it, we need to get to know our food. We are now in uncharted territory when it comes to the way the world acquires its food. For this reason, we need to familiarize ourselves with how the food industry works and become intimate with the knowledge of how these foods affect our bodies. Let’s take bread for example. Basic bread requires 5 ingredients. Basic store bought bread contains 15-20 ingredients. What are the other 10-15 ingredients? How do they affect our bodies and what do they do once they are released into the environment? Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the answer is WE DON’T KNOW. So here’s what I suggest we do. Let’s get back to the basics: know where your food is coming from, learn to read (and understand) food labels, and make informed choices. Listen, I’m here to discover these answers too. My hope is that through this blog I can improve our understanding of our food system in order to spend our food dollars more wisely. As I begin to have a better grasp on this enormous idea of food, ultimately I hope to be able to break it down into bite-sized pieces to share with you, the consumers.