Part of the problem with the current food supply chain is the disconnect between producer and consumer. Information about where food is grown or manufactured as well additional information about growing techniques or specific manufacturing process are not available to consumers. Even after extensive research, it is often difficult to know where our food comes from. It is easy to disguise products as local and to hide their origins or details concerning their production.
I am currently reading a Twinkie Deconstructed which is dedicated to examining and tracing the origin and method of manufacture of each of the ingredients in the popular cake snack Twinkies. Ever wonder what Polysorbate 60 is? This book drive the point across of how far we have become separated from our food sources and how little information we really have about the food (and food like substances) that we eat.
I’ve already written about pilot programs that use RFID to track food from farm to plate but other initiatives using barcodes could also be effective in tracking food. Several companies including FoodReg and TraceTracker are trying to address issues surrounding traceability of items in the food supply chain. Databases can track origin or specific growing conditions of the food being tracked. For examples TraceTracker and Intel are teaming up to develop a system that allows tracking of halal foods.
Maybe someday I will really be able to tell whether the apples for my apple juice came from the farmer down the road or from some tree halfway around the world.