Interest in local food is growing. Consumers choose to buy local foods for a wide variety of reasons, including their perceived nutritional superiority and health benefits, advantages for the local economy, and to help protect the environment.
Thought for Food Blog
Topics: labelling, food quality, Christmas, organic, packaging, flavour, nutrients, fruit, vegetables, meat, retail and marketing, food production, environment and sustainability, food economics, consumer behaviour, local foods, plant-based diets
Imagine a world where you could have any food you liked in any shape you desired at the touch of a button. Rocket-shaped pasta? Easy. A bowl of dinosaur-shaped cereal? No problem. Or how about some chocolate, sculpted into an assortment of intricately shaped snowflakes? Well, with 3D food printing this could be a reality. And, as the technology has started to make some real progress in recent times, it could happen sooner than you might think. Its potential does not end at just printing individual foods like pasta and breakfast cereal, though. Scientists envision a future where entire meals could be printed using a 3D printer.
Most people enjoy eating. In this age of plenty, food has become a source of pleasure to an extent that goes way beyond its ability to provide us with sustenance. However, this sense of pleasure is a complex issue. Take cheeses for example. Each has its own particular combination of flavour compounds and sensory properties – Brie is clearly distinguishable from Cheddar, ripened cheese tastes different to fresh cheese, and so on. But why does my husband have to leave the room, retching dramatically, when the rest of my family salivate in anticipation as we sprinkle parmesan on our minestrone?
In the sixties, a gloomy prediction was made: in the future, people wouldn’t eat foods, as such, but would rely on pills and nutrient-rich powders to provide them with sustenance. No longer would eating be regarded as entertainment. Future inhabitants of our world would eat to live, nothing else.
Thankfully, this turned out to be science fiction. Fifty years on, pills, powders and gels may be consumed as supplements, but the possibility that these could replace real food is still remote. Gastronomes are prepared to spend large amounts of money on fine dining in order to experience unusual flavour combinations. Chocolates full of sugar and fat are given as presents because we love them. Even the astronauts in the space station are provided with specially formulated foods (probably the closest we have come to the predicted powders) that have to be tasty and enjoyable as well as nutritious.
Organic foods often come at a higher cost than their non-organic counterparts. Yet, some consumers consistently choose to buy them above conventionally-produced foods. Evidence suggests that there is often some discrepancy between what consumers believe organic foods offer and the reality. So what exactly are organic foods, and what motivates consumers to buy them?
Organic food: a definition
Organic foods are those produced by organic farming methods, which aim to reduce negative impacts on the environment. The exact standards producers must meet vary slightly between countries, which set their own guidelines, but there are a few core principles that are shared by all of the various regulatory bodies.
Topics: zinc, food safety, food quality, organic, cancer, animal welfare, nutrition, flavour, pesticides, agriculture, meat, regulations and guidance, retail and marketing, environment and sustainability, consumer behaviour