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Review: Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped

I have recently been introduced to this documentary and personally, I think it is one of the best things to happen to television. I may be slightly bias due to the fact that I think Channel 4 do pretty much everything to a fantastically high quality, especially documentaries.

In summary, each episode of Food Unwrapped concentrates on particular foods and how they are made/processed i.e. the industrial secrets behind some of our favourite snacks and what happens to them before they reach our hands. So far, they have investigated some everyday foods such as fruits, ham and seafood, but nothing would prepare me for what I now know about the production process involved with these foods!

Series one started fairly recently on September 10th and now has aired five episodes, all available to watch on 4OD now. What particularly impressed me about this series is that I have not come across such an honest and impressive way of getting information about what people are putting in their mouths! The reporters actually travel to the source of where a food is grown/made and talk to the people behind the scenes; it makes excellent and interesting viewing for the food conscious mind.

I have decided to concentrate mainly on episode two; it looks at the wax that is on our lemons grown in Thailand and Spain before being shipped to our supermarkets. It also looks at the process of making ham, you know the stuff… the sliced packaged meat you put in your sandwiches! Naively, before watching this programme, I actually thought that at least fruit would be left alone but I was wrong.

Nothing would shock me more than what actually happens to make our popular and much loved packaged hams. Now, I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises and secrets because the way it is put together does such a great job. However if you, in the past, have not really taken too much of a notice or care about the brands or quality products you buy, you might want to give this one a miss because it will make you care. I am the opposite so I have just added local produce shopping and “not buying processed ham ever again” to my long list of food/shopping ethics.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where ethics and good quality products were sold everywhere and consumers did not have to worry about anything. But unfortunately, we don’t and this is what this series points out so well. I think it is great that something on television is finally reaching out to the public and giving us this information. With this, anyone can make informed choices to what we eat and put our hard earned cash into. If anything, this series taught me that we cannot just trust huge, worldwide manufacturing of one product and expect it to be perfect.

It may sit on the shelf looking delicious and fresh, the supermarket may package it nicely but the truth is… You cannot know what has happened to your food unless you investigate and question it.

As a student and an environmentalist, I notice that a lot of people I know have no clue or care to what has happened to the products they pick up in the supermarket. Over the past five years of being majorly interested in this subject, I have picked up on a lot of food industry secrets and have even changed my diet to cut certain foods out. In my opinion, you cannot trust many food manufacturers these days, in my mind 95% of them are out to save money and to do that, they cut corners and put our food through some disgusting and unethical processes.

I am certainly not saying I am an angel because I am not. Some say that being an environmentalist should mean I have to be a veggie or vegan (to which I am neither) however I say anything you can do for the planet/fair animal treatment, the better.

If you, after watching Food Unwrapped, feel the same as me and want to change the way you shop, my advice would be buy local produce. In my mind, not only are the products so much more fresh but the money is supporting local farmers which is a great thing. Fruit, vegetables and meat has been honestly grown and sold and has usually come from a farmer close by.

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