We are what we eat. We often pay considerable attention to food safety and hygiene. Yet has it ever crossed your mind whether the process of food production is environmentally friendly? Would this be something you consider when eating?
Organic certification is widely known on food labels today, and used for vegetables and meat products. The certification is issued by an independent third-party institute, to assess whether the food – in the planting or rearing and production process – has fulfilled the requirements of no chemical fertilisers, pesticides, steroids, antibiotics, etc, to minimise negative impacts on the environment and human health. However, as there are a variety of organic standards in different countries and institutions, consumers should make some efforts to find out what is truly behind the different labels. In particular, you should be careful with arbitrary labelling such as “natural”, “harmless” and “no chemical additives”.
The Marine Stewardship Council also issues an “MSC Eco-label” for fishery products. Fishing vessels are required to follow a sustainable way of catching. For example, there is a restriction on fish catches, to ensure that there is a sustainable amount of fish to sustain balanced marine ecosystems. Fishing tools such as fish nets are also regulated to reduce abusive catching. The labelling system takes into account the whole production line until the retailing stage. Food processing plants and restaurants that get their seafood from qualified suppliers may also be awarded the MSC Eco-label, so that consumers can make their choices on different occasions.
Luxury cuisine is no longer the fashion today. A "green menu" is our priority. As consumers, we have great power to change the market. Take some time to understand the meaning of different food labels, and opt for the eco ones. With consumer power, we can knock out the producers that harm our environment.
Text | Tommy Yu