Supermarket Generation ‘Clueless’ About Food

By Nathan Lee, TLE Correspondent 

When you walk along a supermarket isle passing fresh kale housed next to ripe cucumbers, apples next to kiwi fruit, it is easy to see how the concept of seasonality has lost its relevance in the 21st century.

It’s a theme Michael Pollan picks up on in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which explores what it’s like to live in a World where we can literally eat anything. A large Sainsbury’s store stocks approximately 30,000 products, many of which are designed to minimise the extent to which we interact with food. An abundance of fast food and the take-out culture that grips most Western countries has exacerbated this trend considerably.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by new research that finds Brits are pretty much clueless about food.  The survey, commissioned by Whitby Seafood, found that Brits think bananas are produced in the UK, are unsure as to whether apples grow on trees or not and have no idea where kale comes from. While a fifth thought the treasured pork pie came from overseas, one in ten couldn’t identify the classic steak and kidney pie as British, and over half thought scampi was either prawns or fish.

And future generations will be just as confused, as over a third of parents said their kids have asked questions about their meals that they didn’t know how to answer.

Laura Whittle from Whitby Seafood, which commissioned the research said: “Times have changed since we used to buy our groceries from local markets and shops. Back then we could chat to a butcher, fishmonger or greengrocer about where their goods are sourced, but these days it’s harder to get the information.

“If we really want to know more about what we’re eating, it’s important to check supermarket labels. Brushing up on the facts before you grab things from the shelves means you can feel better about what you take home.”

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The research also showed 40 per cent of adults rate their food knowledge from ‘average’ to ‘very poor’ – with three in ten rating their lack of awareness as embarrassing. More than half said they have no idea where their regular fruit and veg comes from and four in ten admit they are clueless to when various fruits are in season.

Fish was no different as nearly four in ten were lost at sea over whether their seafood is sustainably sourced and only 15 per cent of shoppers look to see whether it’s caught locally or imported.

Despite past controversies over supermarket meat, many adults were shown to be oblivious over knowing where their groceries are sourced. One in four confessed they don’t check the labels when buying meat or chicken, while a carefree 80 per cent said they pick up their milk without ever reading the bottles.

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It’s counting the pennies that seems more important to Brits – as seven in ten said when trawling the supermarket aisles, they predominantly look at the price.

When asked further about their knowledge of food, nearly four in ten didn’t know a cauliflower grows in the ground, over half were clueless about how broccoli grows and four in ten thought melons grow on trees. The results also showed that although scampi and chips is a British pub classic, just one in six knew it was made of langoustine.

Whitby Seafoods, the UK’s leading scampi supplier, commissioned the study in order to better understand shopper’s food knowledge and help enlighten them on what Whitby Scampi is and it’s origins.

Laura Whittle added: “Making sure you get sustainably sourced food means you can do your bit for the environment and get quality produce in return.

“And if your kids ask about their food at the dinner table, you can tell them about it too.’’

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