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Internet can reveal your banana's birthplace

Stored under Caption This!GamesMiscellaneousNewsRecipesRelated EBay AuctionsReviewsVideosVisual Stimulation on April 5, 2007

Unless you hand pick it off the tree or out of the ground yourself, produce and other food can arrive as mysteriously as your dreams these days.

Who raised this turkey? Where on earth did those soybeans sprout?

Maybe you don't care, in which case there are plenty of food companies more than happy not to provide you with answers.

For everyone else - the people who wouldn't mind knowing a thing or two about the birthplace of their bananas - there's Organic Valley. And Heritage Farms. And, to some extent, Dole.

Such web-savvy organizations and others are providing innovative ways for individuals to make the connection between food and farm. Meanwhile, as such tools illuminate certain food chains, the ones remaining in the dark seem, by contrast, increasingly opaque.

"The more transparency in the food chain, the better," said Michael Pollan, (, a leading investigative food writer and author of the recent book "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals."

"It's an interesting way for companies doing food sustainably and justly and humanely to make a statement and distinguish themselves and essentially say, 'Look, we've got nothing to hide.'

"And I think that that could have a very positive effect on the industry, if they start competing on the basis of transparency rather than price."

While much of what we put in our bodies still has a derivation of mystery (did it grow in the grocery store?), we are, item by item, able to begin lifting the shade - at least in some cases. And those cases stand out.

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