Food Literacy-a term that goes beyond label and nutrition reading. Food literacy refers to the understanding of foods as part of our life and healthy lifestyles and the implications of our food choices towards our environment and socio-economics status.
Food is an essential human's need. Food provides nutrients to our body and regarded as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Food categories such as 'natural', 'organic', 'gluten free' and 'non-GMO' are examples of current health trends. Consumers began to aware of the importance of food and are able to read labels better. However, food literacy isn't just about reading labels and claims; it extends to how food production and food choices affect our environment, social and economic structure.
Food trends is a collective of individual consumer food choices. Today, customer are not only price-sensitive, they are also watching and looking for health trend, presentation and portfolio of a brand and/or manufacturer for social and environmental responsibility.
Food brands are socially aware through their commitment to provide and disclose what is in our foods and how our food is made. I cannot believe how someone could think that McDonald fries are not real potatoes until I recently watch this video. Apart from confirming that the fries were real potatoes, I learn how fries were made before they made into frozen food.
Food consumers are searching for an answer to their question about food they ate. Nutritional Facts Panel and ingredients list gave some, but not all answer to their question. When I first started, I knew zero about properly reading a food label and its ingredients. Even now, I cannot determine some function of the ingredients in a food label. That is alright; we have few different names for most ingredients. For example, dextrin is a type of sugar. Tips: Learn how to read a food label.
While ingredients are a huge discussion topics, don't forget processing plays a role in determining the quality of the ingredients and degree of nutritional values that are preserved in a food. For example, cold pressed oil is better than chemically extracted oil because less heat that can oxidized fat is applied.
Food consumers are also interested to see social contribution and sustainability factor contributed from their purchase. We began to aware the type of packaging that we use or if the purchase of food product would lead to a certain amount of donations. Some people might see food donation dollars as a marketing ads but I see it as a great marketing ads given that food dollar are utilized on the healthier foods.
Foods is no longer limited to nutrition and health; it is a global concern for socio-economic effects and food sustainability. Ie. can we fulfil the needs of the growing population of food literate consumers?
Felicia Loo is a food science graduate from UBC. With an interest in food marketing, she explores how food products are created, marketed, and distributed to an end users.
Copyright ©Felicia Loo 2015