Low-cost supermarket food looks especially tempting in times of austerity, but food that comes cheap in a first-world economy may well mean that someone's working in harsh conditions elsewhere.
Student Stacey reports at the BBC News site about an experiment where she worked in a selection of Asian food production facilities, helping to prepare food that would ultimately be shipped halfway across the globe and often sold at bargain prices. While the methods used are hygenic and the staff are technically paid minimum wage, she was still appalled by how little food workers are expected to live in and how much back-breaking effort is involved:
I was hit by the heat, then the smell, closely followed by the long tedious hours . . . The more and more I discovered about the food industry the more I wanted to share my experiences as widely as possible when I got home to the UK. Why don't people speak about these workers? Why has the fashion industry had such a spotlight on it, but not this?
The situation is arguably more extreme in the UK than in Australia, since a much larger percentage of food has to be imported in the first place. But with that said, you can bet that the cheapest tins of tuna and packages of rice (two of the staples discussed in the article) in your local supermarket are also sourced from overseas. As several commenters on the BBC article point out, there's no simple solution to the issue, but it's something to consider next time you're filling your trolley.
The far-away food factories [BBC News Magazine]