Over a few days in May, 2,000 16-23-year-olds were asked simple food-related questions by the charity Leaf (Linking Environment and Farming).
The results reinforced the idea that young people have a ‘shocking’ lack of food knowledge. This ignorance is believed to be a growing problem in the UK.
Although four in 10 of those asked considered themselves to be sufficiently clued up on food facts, their answers proved otherwise.
Very few of those asked knew how even the most basic food products were produced, with 36% being completely unaware that bacon came from pigs and 11% thinking eggs were made from wheat or maize.
This points to a worrying and growing detachment from the food British people eat.
So many of us buy any old packaged product in the supermarket without thinking about how it even got to its position on the shelf. We forget about the forests felled to plant miles of crops, we forget about the people who were probably paid very little to harvest the ingredients, we forget about the fossil fuels burnt to produce the packaging, we forget about the destructive carbon footprint created by the plane that bought it to the UK, and we forget about the fuel burnt by the lorry that bought it to the very supermarket we found it in.
By remaining ignorant about the food we eat, we remain blind to the damage large-scale production inevitably inflicts on the planet.
Leaf chief executive Caroline Drummond said: “Three in 10 adults born in the 1990s haven’t visited a farm in more than 10 years, if at all, which is a real shame as our farmers not only play an important role in food production but are passionate about engaging and reconnecting consumers too.”
By simply engaging with the food we put in our mouths, we could boost industry in communities, prevent damage from food imports and even to some extent get a handle on Britain’s overeating problem. Instead of zapping a packaged ready-meal in the microwave, we could learn to enjoy the whole process of producing and preparing food, and ultimately develop much healthier eating habits.
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