Globalization of the Food Supply: Is It
Shrinking the World as We Know It?
This issue’s cover story, “International Harmonization of Food Safety Standards,” got me thinking about how much smaller
the world seems today than, say, 30 years ago.
And while the exploding development of
technology has certainly played a major role, it
doesn’t tell the whole story.
Growing up in the Midwest in the late
’60s and early ’70s, I was not exposed to the
plethora of ethnic foods I enjoy today. There
was no curry or guacamole, no falafel or kung pao…and before I
make you all hungry and send you running out the door to grab
some lunch, let me explain how I think this type of exposure to
foods from cultures worldwide contributes to my sense of the
world getting smaller.
When we share food, we also share the stories of how the
food originated, memories of how we’ve enjoyed it, and how
it’s shaped the culture of those who share it. Is it cooked over
an open fire in a metal pan where the aroma draws in everyone
passing by? Is it baked in a stone hearth or modern oven?
Cooked in a tagine, Dutch oven, or roasting pan? You get the
idea. No matter where we are from, sharing food is an emotional
experience. And while my stories and memories may differ from
yours, the fact that we have this connection to food can serve
to connect us all. A close-knit family, even a family of 100, feels
“small” compared with a family of 10 who can’t see past their
differences, who feels the distance between them.
Maybe what this world needs most right now is to share a
meal, a story, a memory tied to the food that helps sustain us.
And for those who are food-insecure, let us be reminded that by
coming together to harmonize the regulations that sometimes
lead to food waste, we can share better access to safe food around
Barbara VanRenterghem, Ph.D.
CEO, The Target Group Inc. Don Meeker
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