JULY 5 2015

Sunita Narain, Director Centre for Science and Environment
Sunita Narain, Director Centre for Science and Environment / Picture from Down to Earth

What societies eat reflects their position on the modernity trajectory. Poorer countries have health problems because of lack of food. Then as people get rich, they end up losing the health advantage of food availability. They eat processed food that is high in salt, sugar and fat, which make them obese and ill. It is only when societies get very rich that they rediscover the benefits of eating real food and value sustainability.

In India, ironically, it is happening all at once. We have a huge challenge of malnourishment and now a growing battle with the bulge and its associated diseases, diabetes and hypertension. But we also have an advantage: we still have not lost our culture of real food. The nutrition, nature and livelihood connection still exists as Indians eat local, nutritious, home-cooked meals, which are more than often frugal. But this is because we are poor. The question is whether we can continue to eat healthy meals sourced from bio-diverse nature and built on rich culinary cultures even as we get rich. This is the real test.

But to do this, we must get food practices right. We must understand that it is not necessary or accidental that the richer societies tend to lose the health advantage because of bad food. It is because of the food industry, and…continue reading


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