There, I said it. Sue me!
5 minute read
70% of fresh water consumed in India is for agriculture. So, if one had to start looking for environmental, social, political problems to solve, it is one of the obvious places here.
The greatest day to day act, in my opinion, to save trees, is to consume more fruits and vegetables than grains in our diet. The reasons are mentioned below
- Only when diets shift, will we be able to save the forests being cut down, to clear land for growing soybean and corn and fodder for cows and for them to graze, like it is happening with Amazon in Brazil right now.
- India’s dependence on rice needs to reduce significantly to save water intensity of our country’s agriculture. The anaerobic way of cultivation of paddy emits a lot of greenhouse gases too.
- Once fruit and nut trees establish in the first 5 years of their life, a lot of them don’t require a lot of watering if they have been growing on a healthy soil with a lot of organic matter. Plus they sequester much more carbon in their trunks than any of the annual grasses such as grains, which decompose and get added back to the soil in a number of ways
- Vegetables and pulses need much lesser water than grains to grow. Pulses have immense nitrogen fixing capability in the soil. There is a lot of diversity to choose from in a tropical country like ours in every weather. Try to buy local and seasonal produce, as much as possible.
- Edible greens are one of the most healthiest products to eat for humans on this planet. And we have done maximum injustice a civilization could have done to a food category.
- Millets consume much lesser water than rice to grow; so, they are the best alternative to rice. And there are a variety to choose from these days. Try buying them at a local farmers market.
- Meat consumption in India is one of the lowest in the world in per capita. If my memory serves right, we are the 2nd lowest in the world, just below Bangladesh. Our dairy consumption per capita is also around the median in the globe. So, meat and dairy are definitely not a problem as far as our diets go. (Our beef export is a totally different situation though.) I think we can sustain the current levels of animal products in our diets as a society; but we should never impose any kind of discrimination among people on the basis of diets in our day to day lives.
- I have not made my mind about poultry yet. But they seem to be healthier than red meat, for sure. Plus, eggs are a huge bonus
- I am not a huge fan of fishes because heavy metals in our oceans have been known to cause mental health problems. Plus, overfishing has caused a lot of problems in lakes, rivers, seas and oceans in several parts of the globe.
- Among oilseeds, palm oil has caused most destruction to tropical rain forests in this world. So, other than avoiding them, I have no major preference. Groundnuts are the least water intensive; plus they are leguminous and excellent for the soil. Coconuts are water intensive; but, because they are a perennial crop, they sequester a lot of carbon in the trunks and the soil. Sesame and mustard are amazing as well. Try not to buy refined oil as much as possible. Instead, please buy cold pressed organic virgin oil of whatever oil seeds is popular locally – you will have to do your own research – they will have the least carbon footprint possible.
- Please buy organic (and other similarly labeled foods) as much as possible. Detailed reasons for another blog.
- Needless to say: please consume as little packaged, processed, deep fried, sugary foods as possible. It is now common knowledge that these items in large quantities are detrimental to your and your family’s health. Cook at home! Grow your own food! That’s the best way to ensure health: both physical and mental.
I have been told by multiple people that I write long blogs. I tried to keep this one as short as I could. If you like what I write, please write to me to give me feedback.
I know this blog will stoke a lot of emotions because our lives and cultures are very closely linked to food. Some habits are deeply entrenched in our lifestyles. It is very difficult to make changes especially after a certain age. But, this is the only way ahead for human civilization, as I can see.
Discaimer: I am a lacto-ovo-vegetarian trying to reduce egg and milk in my diet
P. S. I have purposely excluded spices. Stuff for another blog, I hope 🙂