We keep hearing this term when it comes to coffee - people want to know the route our brew took from the farm to our morning cup. It represents the emerging of a more conscientious consumer, one who demands to know who produced her food products, whether it is coffee, milk, fruits, veggies or meats.
Regarding coffee, understanding the methods and growing regions of the beans gives the consumer a better idea of how the coffee is going to taste, along with an arsenal of adjectives to describe the coffee experience. But regarding other food, traceability does more than that.
To determine the origins of your food, get to know your farmer, or at least the distributor for your farmer. It will give you some perspective as to where your food is coming from and show how food processing can be avoided. Eating big company-branded food clouds our thoughts on how the chicken breast, for example, got to the packaging. Talking with farmers at local markets and asking the right questions will get you thinking.
How come your chicken breast is so much smaller than the big brands? Well, we don't use growth hormones in our chickens. Why is your pork shoulder twice the price of the grocery store? We don't overstuff our pigs into lots; they are free to roam around the range. Why are these eggs colored and shaped differently? Our farm has multiple varieties of producing hens to lay eggs for us.
Big corporations don't want us looking into their operations. We may uncover practices so disturbing to us, we will refuse to purchase our food from them again. This means it is up to us to demand a trace from the farm to the plate.