Our daily bread

‘Our daily bread. Henk Wildschut explores the reality behind the food we eat’ is the title of this years edition of the annual documentary photographic commission by Rijksmuseum and NRC Handelsblad.

Since photographer Henk Wildschut was born in 1967, the number of people on the planet has doubled from 3.5 to over 7 billion people. This explosive growth of the world’s population has required increasingly intensive, large-scale food production. The Netherlands is good at this: it is the second largest exporter of agrarian products in the world, after the United States.

Photographing Our Daily Bread, Wildschut came to see that modern, large-scale production does not necessarily imply a deterioration in animal welfare, as many suppose. And organic is not always as small-scale as we might imagine. Solutions to problems relating to environment, health and well-being lie in innovation, not in nostalgia. Pure and honest food is not the preserve of local small-scale farmers who know all their animals by name.

If people are disappointed that modern production methods diverge from their idyllic vision, the fault lies in poor information. So stop imagining that milk comes from cows in a meadow, and Italian pomodori grow in darling little herb gardens: the food we get on our plates today has been cultivated, bred and adapted in modern laboratories.

Document Nederland is an annual documentary photographic commission by Rijksmuseum and NRC Handelsblad.