In food we trust

July 30, 2008

For most of us, it’s likely that it was at most only a few hours ago that we had a meal, and if we’re lucky we have three of them a day. But how many of us have even momentarily paused to consider how the food that we consume comes to be before us? Where is the food made, who makes it, and perhaps more importantly – how is it made?

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give it so much as a fleeting thought; and there’s good reason for that. As a society, we have developed a powerful bond of trust with those who produce our food. Trust in our food producers is all powerful but delicate; and understandably so.

With the exception of air and water, human life cannot be sustained without it. Since time immemorial, farmers have traditionally been entrusted with the responsibility of producing clean, safe and nutritious food. We rely on their knowledge of the land, the soil and the growing cycles to produce the amazing cornucopia of food we enjoy today.

Of all their qualities, most importantly we rely on their intimate understanding of that tiny natural microcosm from which all our food derives – the seed. It is the seed that sustains all human life and in that respect, farmers have been the guardians of our food heritage, participating in a symbiotic relationship with consumers that has sustained societies worldwide since the development of agriculture over 10,000 years ago.

In the modern industrialised food system of today, our trust is increasingly stretched out along a complex chain of farmers, agribusiness interests, buyers, transport companies, processors and retailers. Despite this huge paradigm shift in the way we eat, our trust in food is sustained so long as we know that farmers are the first link in the chain. All our food starts with them.

Now a new technology is out to re-write that relationship – genetic modification (GM). Read the rest at Science & Technology, In Food We Trust.

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