This year, World Food Day saw delegates of the UN meet to discuss the theme, “Our Actions are Our Future.” Ahead of the World Food Day 2018, three food and agriculture agencies of the United Nations in India - World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) came together to hold important talks on 14th October at the UN House in New Delhi, India, to throw light on the pledge to achieve #ZeroHunger by 2030. Countering food wastage and upholding sustainable agricultural practices and sustainable consumption patterns is a major concern around this year’s theme, so that today’s actions don’t become tomorrow’s burden.
In India, World Food Day marks the significance of agriculture and emphasizes on healthy food production and consumption. Agriculture is one of the major sectors in our country contributing 20% to the yearly economic growth measured in GDP. In spite of the declining rates of agricultural growth in terms of GDP, the contribution of the agriculture sector in Indian economy is much higher than world's average (6.1%). Hence, it is not only how food is consumed, but how it is grown is also something that determines larger problems of sustainability. To stay organic and natural would spearhead sustainability and help in bridging the food gap.
There is an organic farm in the small district of Birbhum in Bengal, run by an urban couple who left their high paying jobs in U.S.A., feeling the futility of leading a life shrouded in the urban smog. They realized that the basic needs of human life i.e. pure food, water and air, were not being met by the big city life. No matter how luxuriously they had been living, this organization which is now named “The Smell of The Earth”, sustains low-input chemical-free minimal intervention farming. All the food they eat, they grow themselves and the excess they sell off. It is a classic example of going back to the roots of food crop production against commercial production where there was no food wastage. Biowaste too goes into making natural manure to enrich the soil. Agriculture is also going through a major change, becoming less labour intensive and more technological, by using less pesticides and fertilizers while also being high priced.
World Food Day is celebrated with great gusto in India; some earnest food lovers in Delhi find this as an occasion to communicate the need to keep food hygienic and safe. They opposed the use of GM crops and harmful pesticides and insecticides. They express their views through art, street plays and exhibits at Craft Museum, Dastakar Mela. While we are bringing up a generation concerned more about Instagram worthy pictures of food, people are also growing more and more conscious about consuming the right kind of food and maintaining a proper balance in their diet. The move towards gluten free and organic food is a move towards staying hygienic and healthy. That is what World Food day entails, to enhance current food styles and lifestyles and bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots.
We are now witness to the springing up of organic and healthy food brands and many organic farms along with it from where we can get fresh vegetables and fruits. Bagrry’s in India is a popular brand of sugar free muesli and other healthy breakfast substitutes perfect to start the day with. Coupling it with a juice of Raw Pressery or milk from Pride of Cows is the way to go for the increasingly conscious Indian. There is a general tendency now to have multigrain bread instead of white bread and to have less of oil and more of raw fruits and vegetables. Individual consumer choices shape up a healthier foodscape and ensures that serious heart diseases and diabetes that can affect future generations do not crop up in today’s youth. Brands have harped on these changing trends to launch new products that are vegan or gluten free. Restaurants too have been seen to add new sections on their menus to cater to this change.
To add to new product lines, keeping up the standards of health and nutrition for women has been a big concern for big brands in recent times. Special Women’s Horlicks, Bournvita, Ensure and other nutrient substituents being pushed for a specified target of middle aged women identified to be needing a nutrition different from men.
While the number of initiatives taken towards these changing lifestyles is plenty, not many brands focus on food wastage and sustainable consumption. Eg. For every purchase of P&G products, some portion of it goes towards the Shiksha foundation. Similarly, if F&B brands start schemes where on every purchase of 100g, 10g goes towards feeding the hungry, we can ensure a healthy and sustainable future.