It looks all very attractive, but what to choose?

As someone who made its profession of talking and thinking about food, it is often difficult to make decisions regarding to this topic. While buying groceries at the supermarket, choosing what to have for breakfast at my favourite pasticceria or when deciding which restaurant to enter. At some moments I find it really difficult what I should use as indicator that can help me to make these decisions: is it the look, the price or should I choose that what I’m used to take?

It might be my sign (I am a Libra) but I have these doubts almost daily. At the supermarket I can spend minutes in front of the shelf filled with tomato sauce, wondering what is the difference between one product and the other. I am even capable of choosing one, but changing it for another one after another round in the shop. Why is there such a big price difference between one container and the other? Off course I don’t like to pay a price which doesn’t even cover the production costs, but who can give me the guarantee that the more expensive products mean also an honest price to the ones who did the hardest work on it?

It doesn’t help that I often watch documentaries or movies (like this one, in Dutch) digging into the real story behind our daily food. The package can give some hint on the contents (“prepared only with Italian grown tomatoes” or “less salt”) but that might only be done to confuse you. Even if the label tells you that the tomatoes are grown close by home it does not say where they were processed. Further research might show that your local tomatoes have gone a long way before arriving in your kitchen.

Some people say that similar products from different brands ‘come out of the same factory’. That might in fact be true. However that does not mean that the same production process is used for the product from brand A as well as that of the same type of product from brand B. The quality of the product usually is linked to the price, so if a commissioner pays a low price to the manufacturer he has to compensate for the flavour with cheaper ingredients. Have you ever compared the amount of salt per 100 grams between a bag of potato chips of four euros a kilo and one that costs twice as much?

However, the choices made in a supermarket are relatively controllable. You can check the labels on contents and usually the country of origin of the product (check the barcode to understand how this works) and if you are really curious check the website of the producer to understand their values and the company’s approach to for example sustainability, the treatment of their staff and other things that matter to you. But how to do this when you are to eat out of your own house?

Visit this blog next week and I will tell you more about this.