Food Policies, Nutrition
Policies, and Their Influence
on Processes of Change:
Shopping in the supermarket, with tens of thousands of foods available to choose, is a very new way for the human race to find its food. Our pre-agricultural foremothers and forefathers, who gathered and hunted in their immediate environment, had their food choice limited by forces which were beyond their capacity to influence, however much they tried. With agriculture came choice, but a limited one again constrained by limits of the natural environment. Even today we have not quite overcome the forces of nature, although in parts of the world we have managed to increase our food supplies and provide so well for ourselves that the choice of foods may seem unlimited.
It can be argued that when some 10,000 years ago hunting and gathering gave way to agriculture, food supplies began to be regulated, more or less successfully, by those who had the power to do so through various forms of food policies, out of a desire and ability to plan tomorrow's food supply. Over time, food policies thus defined have been dictated by a variety of motives on the part of the powers that be, such as the need to keep people alive, peasants quiet, traders prosperous, and armies fit for fighting. The commercial value of food has of course always been a strong pressure in food policies. Increasingly, and primarily in the present century, a new factor has emerged with force: the possibility for food manufacturers to add value, and