Food Provenance is about knowing how our food was produced, where it came from, and how it got to our local markets. It seeks to describe the agricultural supply chain as thoroughly as possible so that consumers can trust that their food is of acceptable quality and aligned with their environmental or ethical preferences.
For instance, many shoppers want to buy humanely sourced meat or sustainably harvested produce, locally if possible, that are free of contaminants that may affect their health and wellness. Whether products are labeled as organic, BPA-free, fair trade, or carbon-minimal, Food Provenance records help people make informed decisions about their consumption habits.
While Food Provenance attempts to keep consumers as informed as possible, it is in fact very difficult to verify that our food is what it appears to be. The rules for attaining certain labels often mislead us into believing that our food is pure, when only a small portion may be required to meet that standard. Some products—especially seafood, meats, and oils—contain substitutes or dilutions so frequently that they’re almost impossible to trust. Some are even mislabeled altogether. “Greenwashing” is a common marketing practice, and many terms we thought were signs of quality are little more than buzzwords. In a worst-case scenario, consumer fears were realized in the U.K. when it was revealed that some ground beef products actually contained up to 100% horsemeat.
Direct-to-consumer marketing only exacerbates the problem, as it’s far more difficult to know what you’re getting from online marketplaces than a market around the corner. In the same way that an ear of corn sold in Brooklyn might have been grown in Cleveland, the “natural” honey we ordered online could be mostly fructose and we wouldn’t find out until we tasted it, if at all. As shipping gets easier and marketing gets savvier, it has become increasingly difficult to determine our food’s true provenance.
VeriToken traces Food Provenance on a blockchain, which ensures that the quality of every product can be verified at each step along the supply chain. By recording SKUs to smart contracts, production conditions and shipping practices can be indexed throughout the life cycle of the product.
As wholesale products are broken down into smaller units, re-applied, and repackaged, they receive new child contracts that keep everything logged between the grower and the consumer. By the time the end products arrive at the local grocery store, consumers can scan VeriToken-branded QR codes on the packaging to easily verify their heredity and provenance.