Brits know little about food they buy, Mushroom Miles report shows

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A new nationwide study has revealed just how little Brits know about the food they buy on their weekly shop. 

According to the data, a staggering three quarters of us admit we never check the label to see where our food comes from.

Online shoppers are even less interested in the provenance of our meat, fruit or veg, with 87% being totally oblivious to how many food miles the produce has travelled.

And it’s not just the environmental impact of our shopping habits we’re oblivious to, we’re also clueless about how our food is grown with one in 20 thinking potatoes grow on trees.

A further 20% of the 1,500 Brits polled insisted mushrooms grow underground, while a confused 6% believed pineapples are native to the UK.

In fact, almost four in 10 (37%) of the nation’s adults don’t know that apples are native to the UK, more than one in 10 (11%) think green beans grow underground and 6% are sure that parsnips grow on trees.

When it comes to what we do notice when we’re shopping, six in 10 always check the price, 52% look for best before dates, 28% clock calories, but only 19% bother to think about what country our food comes from.

As a result, 88% of Brits have no idea where the fruit in our bowl comes from and even more (90%) of us admit to being clueless about where the veg in our fridge is grown.  

In fact, the survey found that when it comes to what’s inside the average household fridge and where it comes from, we only know about 23% of it. 

Nearly half of British shoppers admit they’ve bought food which is native to the UK & Ireland assuming it was sourced here, only to discover later that it had been transported in from places like Kenya and Poland.  

However interestingly, a quarter of people who have purchased food from abroad which could have been grown here say they feel guilty about it. And one in five even admitted to feeling shocked by this, with 19% going as far to say they wished they hadn’t even bought it.

In fact, the study found that – despite the lack of knowledge about the provenance of the food they are eating – nearly two thirds of Brits (63%) say they are making more of an effort to reduce the food miles of the produce they buy. 

And 37% even said they’d pay more to buy food that came from the UK or Ireland. 

When asked for the reasons behind this, over half (54%) said they want to support the British and Irish industries, while four in ten (39%) admitted they want to cut down on the carbon footprint of their produce.

A spokesperson from the Mushroom Bureau commented: “This study highlights just how little many people know about where the food they routinely buy is from, revealing Brits know where less than a quarter of the food in their fridge comes from. But, interestingly, it also shows that – when given the choice – consumers would choose local over imports. The UK and Irish mushroom industry produce enough mushrooms to supply the whole of the UK’s supermarkets, as well as meet consumer demand all year round, without the need to import from countries like Poland – delivering fresher, better mushrooms with lower carbon footprint.

“When buying mushrooms, it’s important to always check the country of origin, which can be found on front of pack to ensure you’re purchasing the freshest, highest quality produce available to you.”

The Mushroom Miles report is part of the Miles Better (https://miles-better.com/) initiative to highlight the impact shopping closer to home has on the environment as well as helping consumers better understand the journey their food goes on from field to fork.