The Truth About Food
Many of us want to ‘do the right thing’ when we make our food choices at the supermarket. But with so many labels to decipher, it can be hard to know just what that is, writes EMEA Communications Manager Karin Gerbens.

A global survey has found that a baffling array of terminology and contradictory information makes it difficult for families to make choices about their nutrition.

The majority of shoppers surveyed in 11 countries (five in Europe) say they choose foods labelled ‘all-natural’ or ‘organic’. But often, they don’t know what these labels actually mean in terms of their environmental impact, animal welfare or any of the other metrics we associate with healthy food.

To me, this is a great shame. There’s clearly a real appetite for more considered purchasing, but families are struggling to separate fact from fiction in their choices about nutrition, household budgets and environmental impact.

In an effort to sort through the clutter and bring clarity to these choices, the ENOUGH Movement – a global community working together to ensure everyone has access to affordable nutrition – is sharing The Truth About Food. It’s a campaign to spark discussion and provide accurate information about the origins of our food.

It’s about unpicking the detail of some of the terminology. Some 66 per cent of people buy ‘all natural’ products on the understanding they’re healthier and safer, but most of those surveyed say they struggle with the actual definition of labels like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’.

If you’re unsure yourself (and you’re not alone!), ‘organic’ is a type of farm management and food production that only allows natural products to be used. But – despite perceptions to the contrary – it doesn’t mean ‘pesticide free’. The use of a certain number of organic (ie, derived from natural sources and processed lightly if at all before use[1]) pesticides is allowed in EU organic farming.[2]

There’s similar confusion around the belief that more organic production globally is one of the top three solutions to feeding the growing population. In fact, organic farming produces less food – about 25 percent on average globally. [3]

What’s more, it requires significantly more land and natural resources to produce the same yield as modern farming methods. Analysis has found that if Europe tried to feed itself exclusively through organic agriculture (at constant consumption), it would need an additional 28 million hectares – equal to all the remaining forests covering France, Germany, Denmark, and Great Britain combined.[4]

It’s critical that we do everything we can to support a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes with our food. People care deeply about their food choices, as this survey reveals. Surely they deserve balanced, accurate information to help make those choices?

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