In the last fifty or one hundred years, a number of developments have occurred which have led to many people distrusting the sources of their food. With the development of mass-produced food products, many people have gone from purchasing edible goods from their neighborhood or local butcher, baker, and so on, to buying mass-produced food often made miles or even continents away.
Many of the practices which huge farming companies use to make their products are known to be less than ideal for people and the environment. For example, it’s proven that some of the pesticides that people spray on produce to prevent their destruction by pests can be carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to human beings. Additionally, many of the hormones given to cows to produce milk are somewhat dangerous to people. The antibiotics that cows were injected with are thought to have contributed to the drug-resistant bacteria crisis that many hospitals are facing these days.
However, the news isn’t all bad. Many companies are taking steps to improve the safety and excellence of their products, and many of the health scares around inorganic foods are a bit over-hyped. More people are thinking about what they’re eating then ever before, and people are making an effort to make changes in their diets and in the diets of others.
Many movements have arisen in the last twenty years or so to combat the proliferation of mass-marketed, potentially harmful food. The Slow Food movement is a famous example, named in distinction to “fast food” chains aimed at providing convenience, often at the expense of health. People involved with the Slow Food movement are concerned with encouraging people to take time and enjoy the food they’re eating. While this has been criticized as an unrealistic approach for many, given how much time that many working-class people and families have to spend working, others consider it a very useful step towards thinking about how better to engage with food.
People are also becoming invested in knowing where the food they’re eating has come from. A number of coffee shops are becoming more invested in providing for their growers, with some taking rather remarkable measures to make sure that growers, often in African or South American nations, are provided for. Additionally, “farm-to-table” movements are increasingly popular across the world. This describes a kind of eating which eliminates mass-packaging and middlemen from food service. Restaurants are opening which are actually attached to farms, allowing them to service meat and vegetables that are made on-site. Seafood is moving in this direction, too – you may have seen fresh tuna or fresh frog marketing. A real difference from the Filet-O-Fish!
In conclusion, while there is much to be pessimistic about when thinking about the way food is produced these days, there is also a great deal of exciting work going on. Many people are thinking hard about how to eat right and, more importantly, how to restore the importance of eating into culture. Eating is a truly universal need, and different cultures do it so differently. It is an exciting time to be alive and eating!