Tracing your food from its source

As you read in Silvia’s post a couple weeks ago, her and I had a school assignment to find out where the food we eat comes from. I went through my cupboards and fridge and had some mind-blowing (both good and bad) experiences as I began to read the labels. Here is my journey:

My first shock came when I typed thegreenery.com into my web browser. This was the website of the company who imported the package of a red, yellow and orange pepper I had purchased. The label said my peppers had been imported from Mexico and The Greenery was a company out of Philadelphia. Needless to say, I was completely confused when the website brought me to page written completely in Dutch. The Greenery, I found out after switching to the English version, is a company based in the Netherlands who help to organize the shipment of fruit, vegetables and mushrooms around the world.

I had absolutely no idea companies like this even existed.

From what I gathered, Safeway, in the middle of a January Calgary cold-snap, could call up The Greenery (who have offices in New Jersey – I couldn’t find the Philadelphia address on the website), order 100 pounds of kiwis and The Greenery would make sure they got them. Does anyone else find this bizarre?To find out where the soybeans for your soymilk were grown, visit Silk’s Trace It website.
Screenshot by: Laura Lushington (March 23)

So I dug deeper and found The Greenery’s 2010 Sustainability Report. It was a slick document but did highlight some important points in today’s world. According to the report, The Greenery, in the event of food contamination or something to that effect, would be able to trace where that product came from, its route and everywhere it has been distributed to in a maximum of four hours.

This theme of traceability continued when I went to look up the origins of my Silk True Almond Milk. I was disappointed that I was unable to find out where exactly my milk was made, but came across an awesome feature for soymilk drinkers in the process — a website where you can track where the soybeans in your soymilk come from!

Hopefully, once their almond milk products have been around for a while, I will be able to find out where the almonds in my almond milk come from too.

I was also equally impressed with the website of Summer Fresh foods, who make a bunch of dips and hummus my family enjoys on a regular basis. Although I couldn’t decipher where individual ingredients came from like with Silk, Summer Fresh provided you with the address of their production facility and even a Google Map diagram to help you get there. It would be interesting to see what would happened if a customer walked up to the facility and asked to see where their food was made.

The easiest way for you to know where your food comes from, is to buy it straight from the producer like these zucchinis at a farmers’ market.
Photo by: Laura Lushington
If there were one change I would make to my diet right now to help reduce my “food footprint,” I would try to eat fruits that are in season closer to where we live. Having my red grapes travel over 10,000 kilometres from Chile, just to reach my mouth is ridiculous and I don’t think I’ll be buying grapes in the winter ever again.

I also think I am going to be looking at the companies who produce the packaged foods I do eat. For example, animal crackers are one of my favourite snack foods but when I went to Kraft’s website there was more information about recipes on how to use more of the products than on the actual products themselves. The clearest answer I could find as to where my animal crackers were produced came from Wikipedia, and I’m not sure how trusting I should be of that.

So, in conclusion I think my main take-away from this activity is that I should only eat food made by people who are passionate about food. People who are passionate about food are only going to serve you what’s best, what’s freshest and what’s good for you. They’re not going to hide contact information at the bottom of a web page, or hang up on you when you call to ask a question about their product. If they’re passionate, they’ll want to talk, and they’ll want to share their food with you.

llushington@cjournal.ca