Three Questions to Ask About the Food You Eat

Consumers have become interested in knowing more about where their food comes from. Here's how to find the story behind what you are eating.
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It’s interesting to see the connection consumers make to certain products and brands.

Personally, I love a good story or meaning behind a product, especially one that helps a worthy cause. I'll buy jewelry that is made by women who are survivors of trafficking, or items that support an entrepreneur launching their new venture. Knowing the story behind what we are purchasing gives us connection; and connection makes us feel good.

Through social media, manufacturers can share what inspired them to create their products or explain how your purchase will support the greater good. This isn’t a new trend, but it’s an increasingly popular trend. So popular that it has consumers connecting with their grocers to learn about the stories behind the food they are buying.

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The pandemic has created more at-home chefs. Those who found themselves eating out most nights now find themselves with a bag of groceries, a cookbook, and an apron. People have rediscovered the joy of cooking. And as making meals from home picked up over this past year, so did the need for hitting the local grocery store.

In addition to finding the perfect ingredients, many shoppers began to focus on the source of their food supply as concerns from Covid grew. This is where grocers and food supply sources discovered the importance of telling their stories; who they were, what they are about, how the food you are buying came to be. And consumers became fascinated with knowing more.

Forager, a company focused on connecting local farmers with grocers to bring consumers healthy and locally-sourced food, says grocers need to become storytellers about the food they sell.

Learning that you are buying your produce from a fourth-generation farmer or that your food is sourced from women-owned cooperatives adds that connection to the groceries you buy and use.

Here are some basic questions shoppers can ask as they scan the aisles to help learn more about what they are bringing home for dinner.

Where does this item come from? Find out if the item traveled far to get to you. This is particularly important with produce. Since the pandemic, more shoppers are looking for sources of local produce. Find out how many hands that piece of fruit passed through before making it into yours.

How was the item produced? You should find out if the food item was grown using organic, sustainable, or conventional methods. Some consumers want to find out about the carbon footprint in producing it or how much water was used.

What is in season? This basic question can be the key to finding out which produce will taste the best. If you find a deal on in-season produce, you can buy extra and freeze most things. The Environmental Working Group offers their Dirty Dozen list highlighting the produce with the highest levels of pesticides.

Find the social media platforms of manufacturer’s and brands you enjoy. Here you can find details and stories behind your favorite products. Take advantage of special deals or promotions offered to followers. In addition to a grocery store’s loyalty and reward programs, check to see if your favorite brands offer some type of program as well.

Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection. She is the author of “The Joy of $aving: Money Lessons I Learned From My Italian-American Father & 20 Years as a Consumer Reporter.” Jeanette is a regular contributor to TheStreet. Her work includes reporting for CBS, MarketWatch, WSJ Sunday, and USA Today. Jeanette has contributed to “The Today Show” and a variety of other media outlets. You can follow her moneysaving tips on Facebook: Jeanette Pavini: The Joy of $aving Community. Find links to her social media and her book at, JeanettePavini.com.