Paintings on the work of (former) inhabitants of a small frazione near Barolo.
More wallpaintings can be seen on Flickr
One of today’s most important food issues is that ordinary people do not know the origin of their food. A much cited saying in Holland is a child thinking out loud that milk comes from a factory. And in a way he is right since nowadays milk has gone through a lot of processes before it can be sold to you. Do you actually know where your food comes from?

Food might travel many miles before it arrives on your plate. I was stunned (and apparently others with me) when last May I found Dutch peppers in a north Italian supermarket. You don’t want people in this fertile part of the country with a perfect climate for growing food to eat peppers coming from a (heated) greenhouse which is more than 1000km away. Of course this way of trading is in a way good for the Dutch in economy but one can wonder if the effects on the environment and the extra costs this causes can be paid back by the money made. Especially if you keep in mind the subsidies which have to be given to the growers to enable them to compete on the worlds pepper market.

Not only milk seems to come from a factory. Where in the earlier days every town had at least one bakery, a butchers shop and a green-grocer, nowadays you have to be very lucky to encounter the smell of freshly baked bread. And if you find a baker they usually are part of a bigger corporation which distributes its bread and other products from one bakery, mostly located at an industrial area out of town.

Let’s continue with the example of bread. Many people seem to buy this in the supermarket these days. Supermarkets finish frozen breads in their ovens or get fresh bread delivered from a factory somewhere in the country each day. Not only distances between factory and shop could be big, also a lot of energy might be put in getting all the raw material together. We do grow cereals in the Netherlands but most of it is used as cattle feed.

The number of bread selling points grows, many of them acting like they sell authentic products. The modern bakery sells products which give the costumer the idea to be original, handmade and preferably baked in a wooden oven. The products on sale relate to hard work on the countryside which also comes back in the names of the bread; landbrood, oerbrood, boerenbrood, etc. As a trustful consumer it is hard to see the difference between a real authentic bakery and one which looks fancy but where it’s not clear where their products are made.

As happens more often the honest observation of a child might be true. Not only for milk but for a lot of products. The origin of today’s food is not as clear as we might think it is. Or is it clear but does the consumer not notice? Many people just buy what they need not realizing how and where it is prepared. Maybe it is good to let the child in us enter while shopping!