In Japan, a shopper can walk up to a kiosk at a grocery store and learn about a food's background -- where it came from, who grew it, how it was raised. Whether it influences the purchasing decision or not, is up for debate, but it at least provides a certain comfort perception for the consumer.

Japan isn't the only country to take such actions. More and more, that mentality is spreading across the United States. High-end restaurants have embraced this idea for the past few years, listing information about food producers on their menus. While this is away to set themselves and their menus apart, it's also a way to give some consumers more of what they want -- assurances about their food products.

Now bills itself as a Web site that not only sells specialty foods, but also explains why the foods are special.

"We think our visitors want to know about the taste of the food and the sustainability of the methods used to produce that food," says Jeff Deasy, president. "They're people that are concerned about both personal health and the health of the environment."

The site, includes food categories ranging from meat cuts to tapenades and pickled vegetables. It offers product descriptions that include information such as taste evaluations, the product's historic origins, farming methods and awards won. There are also sections that highlight producers and recipes incorporating the products.

While it doesn't directly tie the producer to the exact product, it's an innovative start, and likely a start of a future trend, at least for upscale and specialty food shoppers.