Constructing Wholesome Meals Techniques | meals Deccan Herald
In addition to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), one of the main goals was to achieve “zero hunger” by 2030. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published the report “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” for 2020, categorically states that the world is not in a position to achieve the “zero hunger” goal.
The ongoing pandemic, which is raging in different parts of the world, has negatively impacted healthy food supplies, adding 83 to 132 million people worldwide to the already high number of chronically hungry people and the total number of undernourished people. The existence and growing burden of malnutrition in many forms is challenging. Ironically, the report also notes that adult obesity is also increasing in all regions.
These trends require the introduction of healthy eating systems that can provide food security, not only the recommended calories from starchy staples like rice and wheat, but also nutritious foods to maintain good health.
The FAO and the WHO recommend the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables of at least 400 grams per person per day. However, they are five times more expensive than the diets that meet energy needs. Obviously, only the rich and upper middle income groups can afford this healthy diet. With the loss of livelihoods due to the pandemic, more than three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet. The FAO estimates that more than 57% of the population in the global south cannot afford a healthy diet.
India boasts a tropical climate that is conducive to fruit and vegetable production, and we boast of overproduction of grain. We are the largest milk producer in the world. Our traditional diet is considered to be one of the healthiest and provides nutrients.
Even so, with 73 million people suffering from diabetes, we are the diabetic capital of the world. We also have the highest number of obese people and the highest number of malnourished children in the world.
The reasons for this are well known because we consume low-quality carbohydrates from white rice, sugar, and starchy bread. Indians consume an average of 15 spoons of sugar, contrary to the WHO recommended five spoons per person per day! The vegetable oils used in Indian cuisine – sunflower, palm, rapeseed and soybean oils – become toxic when heated and are not healthy.
About 84% of the people in our country are protein deficient, according to the Indian Dietetic Association.
National Family Health Survey 4 (2015-16) found that approximately 54% of women do not consume fruit, eggs, or dark leafy vegetables on a daily basis. Most shocking are the hidden gender and cultural biases among the Indian population that prevent women from eating healthily. Thus, we face the double burden of inefficient diets with an added dose of cultural taboos that lead to anemic conditions in women and children.
With rising incomes, eating habits change drastically, which has an impact on health, in particular the rate of non-communicable diseases or diseases of civilization such as obesity and diabetes increases.
A study conducted in Pune showed that both children and adults snacked more often as they consumed cheap snacks high in sugar, salt, and low-quality fat. It concluded that “unhealthy and cheap snacks are supplanting healthier foods like legumes, coarse grains and vegetables. More than 50% of adults in urban areas and 29% of women in rural areas were obese. ”
The report calls for the nutritional system to be addressed in order to transform a healthy diet in order to improve the nutritional status of socially disadvantaged groups such as women and other disempowered groups. Our policymakers target these groups by securing food supplies through PDS, but the need of the hour is to change consumer behavior that leads to addiction to highly processed foods that adversely affect health and nutritional status Affect children and marginalized communities.
We are already in the second year of the pandemic, but there is no government or political bias to come up with a practical strategy for building a healthy food system as part of economic resilience in the post-Covid scenario.
Using the existing NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) model, the scope can be expanded to support legally employed people in the production of food and vegetables. Because it is short-lived plants, it can increase food security in times of the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. It also provides a roadmap for greening the economy with minimum capital and maximum ripple effect to create meaningful jobs. Building a healthy nutritional system is the best way to boost common people’s immunity during times of pandemic.
It is high time that this initiative was launched by the state government with the support of the central government as a step towards food and nutrition security.
(The author is a well-known environmental activist)