From farm to fork: Changing food patterns

06 June 2006

When man first became a settled agriculturist and started to grow food for use all year round, he developed an intimate knowledge and a close involvement with the sources of his food. The industrial revolution, and more recently, modern food technology changed all this. The majority of people today are far removed from the sources of food they eat on daily basis. If we are living longer in a period of abundant, diverse and reliable food supply, it is, in part due to the variety and safety of the food we eat.

Demographic and social changes have also contributed to the food industry's evolution. The fast pace of modern lifestyles, the increase in single-person households, one-parent families and working women have lead to an increasing demand for convenient and enjoyable foods, in addition to their nutritional value. But, while there is more awareness of the connection between food and health, there is less time available for cooking. The preservation and transport of food has become an essential industry supplying the European consumer with a wide variety of products.

However, each time a consumer picks up a frozen pizza, an exotic fruit or a leg of lamb at the local supermarket, he or she is unaware of the complex food chain through which the product has evolved. Modern food technology is a sophisticated industry. Yet, despite all the innovations and ever higher levels of food safety, foodborne illnesses have increased across the population.

One reason for this increase is the lack of careful food preparation in the home due to the reduced awareness and the detachment of the consumer from the "roots" of the food supply chain. For this reason, food safety has become even more important than ever before.

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