Bookworm of Edwards hosts food industry researcher on Thursday, May 18 | VailDaily.com

Bookworm of Edwards hosts food industry researcher on Thursday, May 18

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EDWARDS — Today, we shop at grocery stores, order our food online and pick up meals through drive-thru windows. Food is becoming more convenient and quick — but where is our food coming from?

On Thursday, researcher Michael Carolan will be at The Bookworm of Edwards to talk about the food industry, disconnect of consumers and producers as well as the multi-layered industry that is invisible to our daily lives.

"Our food-scape is highly populated," Carolan said. "For so long we have focused problems on the producers and consumers. That ignores all other people that shape the food and preferences — how we eat, what we see and what we taste."

Even if we eat our meal alone, in the car or in front of a TV, a complicated web of people has impacted that food.

Carolan said by the time a choice is made between brands in the grocery store, farmers, scientists, advertisers and economists, among others, have shaped that item. Today, there is information on how our clothes are made, where they are produced and what they are made out of. However, we cannot do the same tracking on our food.

"The food industry is more complex, you can trace a single garment to its factory," Carolan said. "Food comes from other parts of the world and is pieced together in a factory. Take fortified milk for instance, you can trace the milk to a farm but where are the vitamins from?"

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'CHANGE THE FOOD-SCAPE'

The change in our food environment and how elements are produced are affecting the world and inhabitants without consumers knowing it. For instance, in China the factories that produce vitamins for hundreds of healthy food items are ruining their local water supply, worsening air quality and have horrendous working conditions.

"As a consumer, it is an individual decision to pick a certain item. That decision is linked to awful working conditions or harming our environment. We have to become conscience and become active in these decisions," Carolan said.

This wasn't always how our food industry worked. In the early 1900s, there began a change in food marketing and labeling. As fewer consumers were growing their own food or familiar with their farmers, trust for food began diminishing. There was no longer a human element to food that was purchased in shops. Consequently, brands introduced trust with friendly faces, including Betty Crocker and the Jolly Green Giant. The industry changed on the consumer, but as a consumer, we can force a change to a healthier and more connected future.

"If we want to change how we purchase and eat, we need to change the food-scape, not just focusing on the producers and consumers," Carolan said. "Focus needs to be on resisting the forces that have shaped the conventional form of eating."

Carolan will be at The Bookworm on Thursday at 6 p.m. The cost is $10 and includes healthy appetizers.

If you go …

What: Research Michael Carolan talks about the food industry.

When: Thursday, May 18, 6 p.m.

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards.

Cost: $10, includes healthy appetizers.

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