Where does the food I eat come from? That was the question I posed at the start of May. We’re all guilty of picking food up because it looks tasty and putting it in our baskets without the slightest thought of where it came from – so for the month of May I decided it was high time to start looking at those labels.

And what did I find? Well, it appears that some of my food doesn’t travel all that far (Perthshire – about 40/50 miles away – was the closest). But other things that I could, in theory, grow in my back garden are flown in from South Africa and Israel to grace the shelf of my fridge. Possibly most concerning though was the 6% of my food that I couldn’t determine the origin of. It must be there somewhere (being a legal requirement and all that), but it completely eluded me – making me think that it probably wasn’t something the producers wanted to highlight.

The best result is probably that the biggest source of my food is my home – the UK. I was going to break it down further, but my infographic making website didn’t have a map of the UK – for those interesting though, it was like this: Scotland 30%, England 18% & undefined UK 52%. Out with that grouping though, it appears that Western and Southern Europe are the main sources for my dinner. I don’t think it’s particularly surprising to see Spain and Italy pop up here – given the amount of food they produce – but I am slightly surprised that the Netherlands is not higher. Whether this is due to the time of year or just what I buy I don’t know, but I would have bet on it being around (if not over) 10%. A final thought on Europe – I can’t remember what came from Switzerland, but it wasn’t a Toblerone!

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There are a few caveats that I would put on this little study – firstly it was a bit of an odd month in which I ate out a few more times that I ordinarily would; secondly, it was only a month of one person’s food so it isn’t a particularly huge sample size; thirdly and finally, whilst I tried to remove my bias from the situation there was definitely a couple of times that I looked at a label and put it back on the shelf because of its origin – this probably doesn’t give quite the robust sort of results that should be published, but on balance I don’t consider it a bad thing.

I’m glad I did this little experiment – it’s definitely made me think more about where my food comes from. I hope it’ll change my perception of what I buy keep me from zoning out when I enter a supermarket, but I guess that only time will tell.

What do you think of the results? Are there any big surprises in there?

It also begs the question: where does YOUR food come from?

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