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With more focus on safety, why is it still hard to find healthy food?
We are willing to pay more for better-quality food. Why can’t we then choose between an OK apple and a super nutritious one at the store?
Food safety is increasingly becoming the dominant topic of conversations across the developed world. Over the past decades, the focus was on securing as much food as possible; however, for years now, that has not been the case with the developed countries.
According to an estimate by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne diseases each year. At the same time, in the 2020 EU-wide survey of public opinion, 42 percent of EU citizens cited food safety as the principal factor behind food selection.
Furthermore, various surveys indicate that, for safe food, consumers across the EU are willing to pay more than they usually do. This has prompted the development of a number of different certificates to somehow try and standardize food’s origin and method of production; some of these certificates are even being developed by state institutions.
What is safe food anyway? It is food that has full nutritional value and contains no harmful ingredients. How can we be certain we have safe food? By making sure the food that comes to the market is local, authentic, transparent, traceable, and ethical (i.e. LATTE).
So, the principles are quite clear. There is a growing demand for safe food and we know its definition. Then why are stores yet to sort the food by their nutritional value? The bottleneck here is the lack of information about the foodstuffs we consume.
For instance, if we purchase an apple, we will not know when and what with it was treated (and if it was, whether it contains any residue of pesticides or not), how much additional nutrients were used in its production, or even when it was planted or picked. In fact, we will not get a single piece of information telling us the foodstuff in question is safe or that we are looking at a LATTE apple.
The only solution here is the digitization of agriculture. This has been recognized by the EU: in its next financial perspective, it will focus heavily on digitizing agriculture rather than on some other “traditional” measures relied on to increase agriculture’s competitiveness, such as land consolidation or farmer cooperatives, which are necessary but take a long time. On the other hand, digitization brings considerable benefits to both buyers and farmers over a short period of time.
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