Over the last few years food for many reasons has been in the media; cost, quality and production are huge factors in consumer’s everyday lives. The prominence of the argument has also been heightened with the recent economic crisis.
We all lead busy lives nowadays juggling work, family and social lives, so I can totally understand why people pick the easier option when it comes to food. However, I also feel that food has such an important role within our lives that sometimes we need to sit back and look at how we consume it. I was brought up eating delicious home cooked meals by my Mum, from an early age she instilled basic cooking skills and pushed me and my younger brother and sister to try the most adventurous foods possible. At the same time we understood quality and quantity sometimes meant two different things.
Rushing around I don’t always have time to properly appreciate the food I’m eating, but I make an effort to cook tea from scratch every evening. I have fond memories of family meals, sitting around the dinner table, everyone talking about what they had done that day. Food wasn’t just a fuel, something we needed to keep us going; it was a part of social interaction, something to be enjoyed with people.
Personally I feel food knowledge is an education which we all should gain as we grow up. Celebrity chefs can harp on about why we should use organic food, free range, fair-trade and buy local, but unless we experience and use food from these categories in our everyday lives we can hardly expect everyone to follow suit. I don’t think we can live in a world that chastises people for using the “wrong” food, especially as everyone leads different lives. Unfortunately supermarkets do play a huge part in people’s everyday lives, that’s a fact which I don’t think, can be changed.
However I do think we can strive to go back to basics and learn to appreciate the food we eat and where it has come from. I would argue that some causes are more important because of the environment we live in than others. I would rather pick free range and fair trade compared to organic. Not because I have anything against organic food and when buying a Free Range chicken I usually find they are Organic as well. However, I don’t always see or taste a huge difference when eating non organic vegetables. I believe fair trade effectively helps the communities who grow the produce such as Cocoa, which can also been seen closer to home when people choose to buy British grown produce.
I think many companies feel that they can just jump on the bandwagon nowadays and use buzz words to attract customers. The recent KFC advert is a great example of spinning buzz words. The advert features a “chef” talking about using fresh chicken. The word fresh is mentioned throughout the advert, while the advert is set in the fresh vegetable section of a supermarket and then a smart looking kitchen, which turns out to be a KFC kitchen. The chicken should be fresh, but that doesn’t mean its good quality. He advert is clearly misleading and I sometimes think all the different messages from the media, chefs and the supermarkets confuse many food issues.
I truly believe as consumers we should understand what we are eating, how it has been produced and look at how we purchase food. As I have said before food shouldn’t such be seen as a fuel, it’s so much more than that? Considering we need food to keep live, we don’t always invest the time and respect it really deserves.