Do you know where you food comes from? Do you know who grew it? How about how many people had their hands in the chain of distribution for what you are making for dinner? Have you even thought about it?
When you start to cook a meal for your family, think about all the ingredients that you are using. Let’s just take a vegetable. Many vegetables are grown on large scale farms in warm climates like California. Once it is ready for harvest, usually long before the actual vegetable is ripe, it gets picked. Big farms then ship to distributors. Smaller farms that do not go the route of direct distribution or farmer’s markets, may ship to a cooperative or buying house, where smaller lots can be combined before going to the distributor. Once at the distributor, produce is then sorted and separated. Some are then sold to manufactures. Some are transported around the country. There may even be a distributor in between that combines several types of produce for a single region.
Once the produce reaches its final city, there are still many hands the handle your product before it gets to you. In Cleveland, a product might come into the food terminal and shipments separated into lots for further distribution. The shipper sells the lots to assorted distributors who then break those lots into even smaller ones before delivering to your local market. If your market has multiple locations, they might have their own distribution center where they separate lots into store sized loads.
If you are going out to eat, it might be even more complicated!