The word provenance originates from the Latin word provenire where pro means forth and venire means to come. However in the modern English the word provenance is used to describe the ownership of a valuable object or work of art or literature. The mystic world of vintage dealing is all about using data and story telling to establish provenance of that otherwise ordinary everday object. Provenance is what elivates a rag to a museum piece.
However in recent years it is increasingly used to describe in the context of food. To me food is a highly valued object and hence I enjoy the use of this word in the context of food but I cannot help wondering if when the word was first coined it was meant to be used for food. While the 1800’s and 1900’s were no stranger to food trade it was at a much smaller scale. For example international food trade has increased by 5 times over the last 50 years. It is still true that most food is grown locally but the branding and packaging is making it more and more difficult to establish its provonence. While we all like to think that our eggs come from happy free roaming hens and the fish had a wild fullfilling aquatic life before it landed on our plates the truth is often a bit different. In some cases provonence of food is important for environmental reasons, sometimes to boost our egos but in many cases to avoid serious food adulteration.
When I first read about blockchain technology the first thing that came to my mind is that it can be used to weed out fake designer bags. Wiser brains than mine have found a better use and put it to action. The aptly named company Provonence is using blockchain to establish the origin of fish. While no technology is bullet proof the good point about blockchain is that it is a harder nut to crack.
To read more checkout the guardian article on the company.