Future of Food in our bowl – Neelakshi (Author of Simply Sustainable )

FUTURE OF FOOD IN OUR BOWL!

 
FUTURE OF FOOD IN OUR BOWL
 

As a food and an environmental enthusiast and an expert in micro-nutrient and macro-nutrient, I love to prepare meals that is vegan, smells and tastes delicious, good for our health and health of the planet too.

Climate change is something that would cross my mind,

but now that I analyse with calamities occurring just how much the world we live in is in danger due to the global warming, and the intense threat food system is facing due to the heating of our Earth.

This cause & concern for our health and environment inspired me to write this blog

One of the significant contributors to global temperature rise is – our “food-system and farming”. Rise in the temperature has hit agriculture the hardest, resulting in shrinking food supply and water crisis.

Climate change is altering conditions that supports food production, impacting food productivity, food prices and food security. The health of ecosystems on which our economies, livelihood, food security, health and quality of life depend, is collapsing faster than ever. The devastation is visible on a day to day basis, with rise in the frequency of floods, droughts, acid rains,  water shortage, resulting in depleting soil fertility, reducing crop yields and its quality.

“DARK SIDE” OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY

Can you guess the primary sector that contributes the most to greenhouse gas emission?

If you guess it right you may give yourself with a five star!

Much of the understanding globally about what is causing global warming is – focused on the energy sector, on coal-fired power plants, heavy industries and transportation, but not on food and agriculture. Every Nation and industrialist in the field guard this sector for the benefit of profit making. However the truth is, food sector is not only the critical problem in this crisis but also the immediate solution to the problem of global warming.

Food system has dramatic impact on environment. Natural understanding of what human factor contributes to emissions, are the vehicles, planes, automobiles, power plants, textile production, etc. but never a Cookie!

And when asked for solutions on individual level to help solve the crisis; we suggest, car pools, public conveyance, electric automobiles, less energy consumption, CNG fitted vehicles, but seldom we mention about changing our diet and dietary desires

You will be shocked at the revelation that the entire food chain globally, right from the seed to the meal and the waste, contributes one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions. Food system is just not limited to the agriculture but the entire food-chain is connected to every sector of our economy, transport, industry, building, forestry, energy supply and waste treatment.

Food System

FOOD – CAUSE OF HEATING & HEALING THE PLANET 

There would be several questions coming to your mind regarding the connection between food and warming and how it causes heating and healing of the planet.

It is not surprising to note, that – food which is meant to nourish, has become the cause of disaster in this era.

The modern food consumption trend has caused stress to health and environment in developed nations, now it is having a devastating impact to health and environment in developing countries too. Asia is identified as the most vulnerable region to get affected by climate change after U.S. Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka will see a rise in food prices, food shortage, crop failure as temperature rises. These regions support half of the poor of the world and agriculture plays important role in GDP and employment generation in the region.

Though on one side its a privilege to be in India because it offers people a choice & variety in food, but again, the modern-food-consumption trend has changed our palette, that has pushed us to consume more western-style processed-fatty and fast-food. Thanks to the impressive advertising which is constructing our taste and influencing our desire to consume such food, that harms the climate, impact our health but earns good profit for processed food companies

Just as we have helped ourselves by using energy-efficient appliances, carpooling and changing our light bulbs to reduce carbon footprint, we can talk about and weigh our eating options to reduce “ecological foodprint”. Global emissions are linked to what we choose to eat. Researchers opined that environment-friendly diet would be to cut down on meat, fast-food and processed-food which consumes a lot of water, power, feed and land. Food that is good for the planet is good for us too.

Switch to a Vegan-diet:

Shifting diet with a greater portion of plant-based foods is significant to reduce agriculture pressure on environment. We just need to make small changes into everyday diet. Vegan diet does not mean compromising on taste or flavour, rather it provides holistic nourishment required by our body. Vegan diet is sustainable & fulfils our daily requirement of Protein and other nutrients, without adding bulk to your body.

Soy, nuts, Lentils, Chickpeas, Beans, Oats, Green peas, Quinoa, Millets are good options for protein diet. Protein score card below depicts your food impact on GHG emission & help you choose what to eat without much impact

WRI_Protein_Scorecard_final_1.jpg

Check out the link below to a site for Vegan dishes made just right and yum yum

www.simplyvegetarian777.com/

Vegan Diet – Picture credit Simply vegetarian 777

Make a shift from a Pescatarian diet to a Mediterranean diet:

Coastal regions might face shortage of sea food due to the sea temperature rise leading to most of our natural fishery resources being exhausted. Mediterranean diet consist of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and olive oil.

Less meat and less sea food. These diet have health benefits and is good for heart too

FOOD AND SHOPPING HABITS

Apart from choosing what we grow, what we eat, where we shop and where we eat is also another factor impacting food-system and global warming. How?

  • With rising incomes and living conditions becoming better off, our food consumption and shopping habits have changed.
  • The shift towards more fast-food consumption, eating out generally, shopping from supermarkets has become a norm.
  • Advertising directed at us, seduce our senses & influence our lifestyle for status, competition & desire.
  • More people across the globe are eating industrial diet high in fat, sugar, sodium, chemicals and preservatives but low in nutrition.

If current diet trend continues, emissions from food system will increase the concentration of harmful gasses (nitrous oxide, methane and CO2) into atmosphere  which is linked to growing ecological footprint.

CASE – SUPERMARKET ADDS TO EMISSIONS

Western style shopping pattern has given a boost to the sales in every country from shopping through organised Supermarkets. Sales from supermarket have grown six-fold in many developing countries. Moving the food through supermarkets long supply-chains and the emission of hydrofluorocarbons greenhouse gasses from their cooling cases has huge negative consequences on climate which is hard to believe.

GLOBAL TRADE AND WARMING

We all enjoy the expanding food variety and confectionery items in megastores. Today it’s not difficult to find an American produced Oreo cookie in India at any grocery store or supermarket. Although the domestic produce cookies also tastes same, but again, advertising has constructed our taste so that demand for international product has increased multi-fold. Unnecessary transportation of similar product across countries have environmental implications. It would be so much better to share the recipes across the countries. The longer the time food takes to reach from farm to your plate more stale the food is and provides zero nutrition. There is no health benefit of eating months old packed food which is only a treat for our taste buds.

Food transportation has serious global warming consequences. World food trade is growing faster and has grown 184 percent since 1968. The web of international trade got denser and transportation of food products, multitude of ingredients, meat, livestock, feed etc, one may well imagine the magnitude of consequences

on warming and emissions

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACT ON FARMING

It’s no more a news to learn about the impact of global warming: there are almost 5550 articles on warming globally, though only few are focused on the connection between food and climate change. Climate might change what we eat in the future.

  • Droughts lead to the loss of major staple crops,
  • soil quality is depleting due to salt accumulation by flooding
  • flooding leaves soils water-logged,
  • longer warmer seasons of growing crops breeds new and more pests,
  • and erratic weather shifting harvest seasons.

Researches predicted that by the end of 2030 staple crops wheat, rice and sugarcane will see a drop of almost 40 percent. These grains are the main source of calories for half the population globally. But being irrigation-intensive crops they don’t have a bright future.

Future will see production of drought-resistant crops and vegetables which can withstand vagaries of weather.

CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASED FARMERS TOLL LEADING TO SUICIDE 

Increased incidents of crop failure, lead to higher rural poverty, farmer distress and suicide. People who fill our stomach are the poorest on Earth. Around 60 percent farmer killed themselves until 2016 due to the crop failure, prices, debts, loans, irrigation problems, costly fertilisers, all factors linked to natural calamities.

To have a regular income and secure revenue from farm produce,

farmers opted for climate-friendly crops that consumes less water, less fertilisers and can grow on less fertile soils, without compromising on yield quality.

Farmers south of India have already replaced the production of Rice with Millet,

as rice requires intensive irrigation and last 4 to 5 years farmers experienced crop failure due to change in climatic conditions. This burdened farmers with debt and loans which has taken a toll on their lives. So they quit water-intensive crops in favour of drought-resistance crops (Millet)

A SWIFTLY TILTING PALATE

Unless we shift course, this planet-heating trend will continue. Health conscious people are resisting to processed and fast-food diet, seeing their diet-related-disease burden grow and embracing real food in the face of fast food.

They have challenged this trend and have explored a variety of healthy alternative food options, recreated dishes that cook, taste, smell and sizzle the same.

Let’s quit our food addictions and pave a way for a meaningful healthier life.

Let’s get on a transformational journey and re-establish healthy relationship with food. Future will see less of rice and wheat and more of Millets, Oats, Sorghum, Quinoa. These are considered healthier options to gluten-starch based grains (rice & wheat)

MODERN DIET IS CHEMICALS & PRESERVATIVES LADEN – A BURDEN ON HEALTH 

Fast-food, highly processed-food, red meat is more responsible for global warming than those fuming jets, aircrafts and automobiles.

Processed diet is just a waste, it harms our health and bodies. It fills our bellies

with unnecessary calories and fat, adding to our waistlines, not to our health. Intensive processing is required to make food tastier, that consumes extra energy to power and operate the manufacturing plants and boost emission toll. More the processes less the nutritional value. You don’t know what your food is made up of. To increase the shelf-life of a product, innumerable chemicals are added to the food. At each stage from weed to bowl only chemicals and synthetic substances are added. We are consuming chemicals in the name of food with zero nutritional value. Most of these chemicals are also used in cleaning agents household, varnishes, soaps, body oils and shampoos etc.

Processed industrial diet is Carcinogenic. It increases your cholesterol and sugar.

And uses substandard oil, sugar and chemicals for processing food.

CASE PALM OIL – INGREDIENTS IN PROCESSED FOOD

Supermarket shelves are lined with processed food products with ingredients high in fructose, sodium, preservatives, chemicals, additives, colourants etc. Each step required to make the processed food and the multitude of ingredients used adds to the emission toll.

One of the examples is of Palm oil, entire processed-food and fast-food industry uses ingredient Pam oil. The consequences of palm oil plantation on climate is dramatic, as to establish palm oil plantations, producers raze rainforests and drain peat-lands, which becomes exposed to air, and carbon in soil is lost. On being oxidised it release CO2 into atmosphere. Once the land dry it become susceptible to fire which can burn for months to an end. The demand for Palm oil skyrocketed with the rise in demand for processed food impacting Environment and Health dramatically.

QUIT FOOD ADDICTIONS & MAKE SUSTAINABLE FOOD CHOICES

  • Eat less meat – study published in 2017 in the Journal Environmental research letters, revealed that red meat can have upto 100 times more the environmental impact than plant based food
  • Reach out for real food – food that are closer to their natural state and have not undergone any processing. Like fresh fruits instead of canned
  • Buy from Farmer’s market – they sell directly from farmers to consumers. They have better variety of food and organic food available. Bypass supermarket as most of the items are processed laden with chemicals, except some fresh vegetable or organic stuff if they in-house
  • Choose Organic – fruit, vegetables and grains
  • Go for Greens – Green fruits and green leafy vegetables
  • Look out for Organic eggs – as the commercial eggs are coated & cleaned with synthetic substances that enters the egg and reacts with egg white to form toxic compounds. Look for organic eggs from farms or farmers market & locally grown eggs
  • Avoid processed food
  • Cook your own Food
  • Opt for Farm produce
  • Go for Local food and produce
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) – are farms supported by members of one community, who invest prior to the harvest season and then are supplied with weekly deliveries of fresh produce for a year or half
  • Do some terrace farming – get your hands dirty, after all its worth your health, isn’t it!
  • Make your own Manure
Millet Sevian – Traditional Indian cuisine – Picture credit Neelakshi
 
Indian Vegan Diet - Makki Roti with Sarson Ka saag
Millet Tortilla with Green vegetable

ERA OF MILLETS!

We can breath a new life with this wonder grain. Millets are a way out of future food crisis. Millet provides security of food, health, fodder, nutrition and ecological balance, even during harsh weather conditions. Corporate and companies are investing hugely in Millet farming across India with production likely to grow generating more business avenues, jobs and regular higher income for farmers.

People are beginning to eat Millet under medical prescription. Millets contains higher amount of fibre and essential minerals compared to Rice and Wheat or other cereal grains. They contain a good quantity of Protein almost double the amount to a Wheat roti, a huge content of essential amino acids and are gluten free. Health conscious people have woken up to the benefits of Millets.

ITC has signed a contract farming for Millet and the initiative is being funded by World Bank.

MILLET VARIETIES OF INDIA

There are 8 species of Millets available mainly:

Finger millet

Pearl millet

Barnyard millet

Little millet

Foxtail millet

Proso millet

Kodo millet

Sorghum

All the varieties almost taste the same though. The benefit would be in having these grains as real as possible rather than processed versions.

THE FUTURE OF DIET WILL BE ADVENTUROUS

Our forgotten grain Millet offers a plethora of choice in dishes and snacks in various cuisines. You can replicate most of the recipes with Millet. Replace your potato chips with Millet chips

Renowned chef Sanjeev Kapoor shares flavourful recipes in Millet as per modern trend in taste.

Look for delicious Millet cutlet recipe in the link below by him –

#MilletRawBananaCutlet

Millet Cutlet – Picture credit – Sanjeev Kapoor Kitchen
 

#jowartacos

Millet Tacos – Picture credit Cook Time

There are many social enterprise in India that provide easy and unprocessed healthy options of Millets items to be included in our fast pace lifestyle diet. Most of these enterprises also provides cooking workshops and various healthy recipes on millets.

  • SOME MORE FOOD PRODUCTS – provides convenience Organic foods under brand name “SOMEMORE”. I have tried all the products from this brand and its quiet filling, light and easy to cook. You can order products from the website: www.somemorefoods.com/. Brand even caters to the infants healthy diet needs under brand name “FIRSTSPOON”
 
Picture credit – Save More Sevian
Some More Food Products

You will see the positive impact you will create on your health and environment, would be larger than you have imagined. So be your own food-police & be empowered citizens.

Pen down your experiences with this new inclusion in your diet.

 

Comments

  1. Very well researched article. Thanks for all the useful information and tips Neelakshi

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  2.  
  3. Very interesting n informative article …..quiet researched n had covered present global scenario which will be affecting our food style ….should be aware n start changing ourselves for better n healthy future

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  5. Beautifully written,well researched and aptly penned down informative Article Neelakshi.You have presented your thoughts which have very lucrative and beneficial effects.

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