Do you know what is in your food?

How much do you know about the food you eat? What kind of consumer are you? Do you usually read the nutrition facts on packets?

Well, even if you are the type of consumer that pays attention to this and reads nutrition facts carefully, you might be missing some information about your food. There are things called processing aids that are not required to be mentioned on the label. Besides, with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), there is no way to tell if the oil used in your biscuits was derived from GMO canola or if the meat in your pie came from a cow fed on GMO feed.

Let’s talk about soy for example. Globally, direct human consumption of soybeans accounts for approximately 6% of total production. However, when it comes to indirect consumption, the story looks very different: Soy is part of our daily lives, in the food we eat, processed or not, embedded in products and ingredients across the dairy, meat, poultry, and aquaculture industries.

You will be surprised with the amount of soy in everyday products:

  • Imitation dairy food; infant formula, meal replacements; nutrition supplements; meat products with fillers, e.g., burgers and prepared ground meat products;
  • Simulated fish and meat products, e.g., surimi, imitation bacon bits, vegetarian burgers
  • Cooking spray; margarine, vegetable shortening, and vegetable oil; dressings and sauces, gravies and marinades; frozen desserts … and the list goes on and on!

While organic certified food products in principle give consumers the assurance that the soy used in their products is being produced with the utmost respect to the people and the environment, it is unclear for the final consumer, how this embedded soy (or other similar ingredients) have been produced.

Consumers’ growing awareness and expectations

With the growing concern for deforestation, climate Change, loss of biodiversity and human rights, the dependence of our food system into few globally traded commodities, raises a question mark and consumers and civil society start demanding the need to shift towards better agricultural practices that preserve workers and local communities’ rights while protect the environment for future generations. As the second largest importer of soy, Europe has a responsibility to lead this debate and come up with concrete measures.

According to IDH and IUCN NL European Soy Monitor Report, looking at the footprint, all soy used for European consumption is grown on more than 19 million football fields. Furthermore, soy production is associated with a range of environmental and social issues in producing countries. Deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems in South America has been driven by the rapidly growing landmass dedicated to soy cultivation. In 2017, the EU+ (EU-28 member states, plus Norway and Switzerland) used an estimated 34.4 million tonnes of soybeans, soymeal and soybean oil, or 40.5 million tonnes of soybean equivalents, approximately 12% of global soybean production.

Ask your preferred brand or retailer to provide you with information

The ProTerra Certification mark may be used on products that are made with certified ingredients, that can be traced back to well-managed farms and businesses that actively contribute to mitigating their negative impacts on biodiversity, climate change and deforestation and continued progress towards more sustainable and responsible business practice.

The ProTerra Certification Mark guarantees consumers that a product or its ingredients have been produced under environmentally and socially responsible practices, and without using genetically modified crops or products.

If you are interested on how your food is produced and want to influence the way food system works, demand your preferred brands and supermarkets to provide you with information about their policies and processes to ensure you that people and the environment are protected, and that GMO has not been used.

At the ProTerra Foundation, we envisage a world where all businesses contribute to the protection of biodiversity by switching to sustainable production, conserve natural resources and ensure that local communities are treated with dignity and respect. If you share that vision, spread the word and follow us!