Are You Sure That’s 100% Tuna You’re Eating?

Why we can’t trust our food system until we reduce our food distance

Kevin Ervin Kelley, AIA

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iStockphoto.com:Studioimagen73

My grandmother lived in rural Alabama and had a much closer connection to what she ate than most of us will ever have. She raised, killed, plucked, prepped, and cooked chickens. She milked cows, birthed calves, and grew fruits and vegetables on her farm.

Although Grandma never had a harsh word to say about anyone, she could wring the neck of a chicken with terrifying suddenness. She was intimately familiar with the food she and her family consumed. However, as future generations progressed, the physical and emotional distance between the food people ate and how it got from the farm to the table grew.

Today we live in a world where many kids don’t know that milk, cheese, and hamburgers come from cows. Or that pickles started as cucumbers, that raisins are grapes, and ketchup is from tomatoes. This lack of food knowledge is understandable for kids but not adults.

Every once in and a while, a story catches people’s attention and encourages some of them to ask more questions about their food, which I think is healthy for us to do. Such is the case with the latest tuna sandwich mystery.

Something’s Fishy

The world’s largest sandwich chain, Subway, recently found itself entangled in a lawsuit over whether its tuna sandwiches contained, well, tuna. The plaintiffs, Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin, filed a court action on January 21, 2021, claiming the tuna is “a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by (Subway) to imitate the appearance of tuna.”

Subway is standing by their position that their fish is “nothing but 100% wild-caught tuna,” and I’m not qualified to verify whether it is or isn’t. However, I am here to say we should all pay more attention to where our food comes from and become more familiar with the process of how it gets to our tables, even if the subject makes us a little queasy.

I will grant the sensationalism of the tuna story and unverifiable facts of the testing, but this is not the first time Subway has found itself embroiled in a food controversy. For example, in 2020, the Irish…

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Kevin Ervin Kelley, AIA

I’m a retail architect that studies human behavior, perception, and decision-making. I’m fascinated with the intersection of where commerce and community meet.