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Author: Sean Beer

What Do Your Food Choices Say About You?

Updated Tuesday, 9th August 2005

Sean Beer is a first year tutor for Land Based Enterprise at Bournemouth University. A major area of his work is that of developing resources for teaching agriculture and other countryside based subjects. Ever Wondered sent him out to find out what our food choices say about us

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A half-eaten breakfast

"Nothing fills the gap like a lasagne. But what do my food choices say about me apart from the fact that I’m hungry that is. It’s about more than that – every bean that we buy resonates with political nuances. Do we realise the power we wield as food consumers? Test how much you know about the things you buy every week – can you tell what cut a package of meat is, or even what animal it’s come from, without looking at the label?

Person eating strawberry Do you know the real season for all the fruits we see year round on our supermarket shelves? We’ve fallen hook, line and ready meal for the adman’s confection of instant gratification and no preparation. Every day food consumers prostitute themselves, dropping their ethical standards to worship in fake food heaven. Food is the new sex, we ogle the foodie pornography of the celebrity tv chefs and the glossy magazines. And in reality our attitude to food is like our attitude to sex in that we only cook once a week, on a Saturday night. Supermarkets rely on factory raised chemical laden foodstuffs, a far cry from what our ancestors would have eaten. But then again I think we’re missing a fundamental point – the biological one.

Sheep Everything we eat becomes biologically part of us – think about the consequences of that stark reality in extreme circumstances, like BSE and E-Coli. But it goes much further than that. I can’t look at any foodstuff without thinking about the social, economic, political, technological and environmental aspects of food. Socially, food marks all the great bondings of human life, from birth to death; economically, the choices we make in the supermarket determine how our food is produced and who produces it; politically, the shape of our food and its market price are shaped by government policies far removed from what we might want; and environmentally, what might genetically modified food really be doing to our food and environment?

Red Peppers The answer to these problems lies in your shopping basket. We need to stop massaging our egos and face up to the reality of our actions. Everything that we buy says something about us alright – we need to make those choices count. Be careful what you eat.

If you would like to know more about the food chain then have a look at course T172 Working With Our Environment:Technology for a Sustainable Future.

Perhaps you would like to challenge established, policital and culture ideas with course DD100 Introduction to the Social Sciences.

And here are some more ways to enhance your understanding of food and where it comes from:

Books you can read

"The organic meat book", Frances Bissell, Ebury Press, ISBN 0091868319

"Organic farming and Growing", Francis Blake, The Corwood Press, ISBN 1852238380

"The shoppers guide to Organic Food", Lynda Brown, Fourth Estate, ISBN 1857028406

How to avoid GM Food: Hundreds of Brands, Products and Ingredients to Avoid", Joanna Blythman, Fourth Estate, ISBN 1841151874

Links you can surf

For more information on the Food and Drink Federation which aims to inform people about genetic modification.

For more information on DEFRA, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

For more information on the Soil Association.
For more information on organic foods.

For more information on food research.

Also on this site : You can join Cherie Lunghi to find out why some foods are so addictive or join Gordon Ramsay to find out what special recipe he is cooking up

If you think you might be interested in studying more about these subjects, find out what the Open University has to offer.


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