Our interest in food has possibly never been greater. Authenticity and origin have become important to us, but are we missing something more fundamental in our understanding of our food sources?
Food Origin Goes Further Back Than We Commonly Think
This weekend, an article in the Telegraph gardening supplement entitled “what really gets bees buzzing?” set my mind buzzing. To quote the author, “…bees, and other pollinators are responsible for the success of food crops as diverse as tomatoes, apples, strawberries, chocolate and coffee”
Chocolate and coffee! These products are our stock-in-trade, produced from crops of course, but had I ever thought as far back in the production process as pollination? No!
The insects and the chocolate bar
I began to wonder whether anyone considers the role of the pollinating insect as they unwrap their chocolate bar or sip their coffee from a Westways snack vending machine. Furthermore, who might look at their typical weekday lunch and recognise that the cocoa plant which produced their chocolate treat was the product of pollination just as their salad ingredients and piece of fruit?
The fact is that without pollinating insects, plants would not fruit or reproduce. But once crops have been processed and packaged, their natural origin becomes disguised, and it is easy to forget that they are a natural product created by natural processes.
Bees under threat
Now here is the sting. Bee populations are falling. Bees suffer from changing land-use and the widespread use of devastating pesticides. Intensive farming methods often involve the eradication their food source of wild plants and flowers. Further losses are attributed to bee colony collapse, which is a concern in the USA, and in Europe where 84 per cent of crops depend on pollinators. It sounds like a tale of doom.
The good news is that bee’s lifecycle and habitats are heavily researched, and one of the findings is that bees, like humans, require a balanced diet. Let’s hope the reasons for this worrying decline in bee numbers can be identified and the situation improved.
So next time you unwrap a chocolate treat or sip a hot drink, remember before it became a crop, a pollinator created it!
Westways Vending supplies vending machines throughout Sussex, Kent and Surrey. For more details call 0800 195 3170.
Source article: What really gets bees buzzing