Quantified Nutrition — Saving the food and planet! (part1)

Shanu Shashank
Shanu Shashank

 | 1 minute to read

We all know the importance of quantified nutrition when it comes to shredding those pounds of fats or gaining some weight (muscle mass) hence having a fair idea of how much is our intake helps us to maintain our health and fitness in all aspects. However, there is a big picture that we all might have missed out on how important a role this can play in preserving food resources and minimizing the wastage of food on a day to day basis.

If we go by the stats through surveys being conducted in our country, we rank at the top of the list when it comes to food wastage, close enough to the entire consumption of few of the nations! The wastage of food is common among marriage ceremonies, parties, social events. The bigger the invitees list, the larger is the amount of food being wasted. Food wastage can affect a country’s economy to an extent which many of us don’t have a clue about(an estimate of more than 50k crore of money gets wasted). Let’s cover each of them one by one (this might go long, so be patient enough). * The food we consume goes through a complex process of yielding and harvesting, which also require a lot of water being used for agriculture, manpower and electricity. In a country like ours where a large set of population don’t even have access to fresh water, a big scale is used for land cultivation into crops. Food for thought right! * Acres of land go through deforestation to grow food. Yes, since last few years, we have been able to take measures to cater to this problem, however, there is still a lot that needs to be done! Unsustainable agricultural practices and too much of ground water usage for the growth of crops which have a very less yield per hectare land adds up. (the growth of sugarcane in Maharashtra and rice in North India are couple of examples leading to water shortage and pollution — will cover in the next parts) * There is a major percentage of food that gets wasted from the point it is harvested, processed and distributed to the time it reaches consumers. The total loss of food throughout this process gets close to more than 20–30 %. Ironically, with more than 10 % of the population being undernourished, India had been previously reported to be among the top ones in this category. Yes, there have been certain in-capabilities and flaws at each of the points, from transportation to lack of technology in storage systems as compared to other developed nations. The mismanagement in this chain of process needs to be corrected from grass root level. * What about the consumption of oil?? The country’s vegetable oil consumption was more than 20 million back in 2017. So, next time you pour that oil into your vessel for a deep fry, do recall this point! Of course, things have been largely influenced by how the food industries have been marketing things. Reason why we all need to be aware and educated enough. * Methane production?? One of the most overlooked points affecting the carbon emission is the wastage of food. Clearing of forests and lands to grow the crops leads to the emission of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Moreover, most of the food waste ends up in landfills, where the zero- oxygen environment turns organic matter into methane, which further increases greenhouse gas emissions. But, how can Quantifying food create a difference here? While considering the population size, things don’t happen just right away, each one needs to build a foundation of right food choices . Why ? Because what we eat is how it grows and affects us and our environment. When we largely talk about the impact of food wastage and its after effects in all aspects, one might definitely feel its a task which has to be taken care of by the government and the system at each point, yet there is a lot which can be brought under control at an individual level. * In our country, we are hoarders of food as if we would not know where our next meal would come from. That’s why we never realize how much of it is actually already present inside our refrigerator. From loaves of bread bought last week to those variety of spoiled vegetables since you wanted a “change” in taste, our refrigerators at home have become a new dump yard at home! So, next time you go shopping into the supermarket, make sure to do a thorough check in the kitchen and refrigerator. * Having a list of food items in hand along with an approximate consumption ratio could at least make sure we are not wasting any food unnecessarily. Now, you know why it’s important to meet the target calories! * It’s always good to keep an estimation of your overall food intake for the upcoming days or the week and accordingly go for shopping. Not only will you avoid food wastage, but also save a penny buying those items which are not required. * I know how much we all love fruits and vegetables, however, when it comes to personal choice, I try following a minimalist approach. No, am not asking you to follow my eating routine, however, keeping limited fruits (according to the quantity in plan) can actually help avoid its wastage. Similarly, check for the seasonal availability of vegetables so that they don’t get stale soon. Anyhow, having too much of fiber also doesn’t have any extra advantage, you need to simply have them in enough quantities. So, spend on food items in balance. * Meal planning can contribute big here. Preparing a chart with a certain number of items fixed can help you plan your shopping during the weekends and buy only the required items for that duration. This also helps create a sense of self accountability, ensuring that you stick to the plan without fail. Also, keeping a note of the nutrition labels is important not only from calories point of view, but also to keep a check of the usage by dates. * Coming to the point of oil usage, we Indians are known to have food items cooked (or rather deep fried) in huge quantity of it. There is no denial that our oil consumption has been on a higher side all these years. So, when you quantify your fats (dietary) intake, you do keep a check of it overall on a daily basis. Imagine, if one one can bring in this uniformity of dosage at home for each of the members, wouldn’t it help the purpose? It not only will help in contributing towards maintaining a better lipid profile inside of your bloodstream, but also help in minimizing the risks of health hazards relating to blood cholesterol and heart problems. (of course you need to choose the right sources of oil/ fats too here). Here’s an interesting fact in lieu of the above point: India’s burden of Non Communicable Diseases is ever increasing like Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, Blood Pressure, Strokes etc. Take this as a small homework to find out why is it so. You will be highly surprised or mildly surprised (depending on your level of awareness) by what you find as causes. So, you see how important it is to quantify the things when we eat, start quantifying to save the food and also your health. PS: Would cover the rice and millet part probably in the next part. You can check out the references if you want to dig deeper on this topic. References: https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/230219/india-wastes-as-much-food-as-the-uk-consumes.html https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home https://thecsrjournal.in/food-wastage-in-india-a-serious-concern/ http://www.businessworld.in/article/India-Wastes-As-Much-Food-As-United-Kingdom-Consumes-Study/27-08-2017-124858/ https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/indias-edible-oil-consumption-to-exceed-34-million-tonnes-by-2030-report/article24254536.ece#

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