Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The torrential information flood that can be overwhelming, on practically all aspects concerning modern life has exposed the society to conflicting views and advises making it difficult to separate chaff from the grain and to day's consumer is totally lost in this mountain of"knowledge". Hardly a day passes claiming good and bad things about hundreds of food materials that go to make up the daily diet. There are many who are concerned about their health who constantly pour over these information snippets and some religiously believe and practice many such advices. In a few western countries there are official government portals that can be tapped for truth about the food consumed every day while citizens in other countries have no reliable source to seek clarification and information on food. A recent community concept which is gaining ground in the US may offer a simple solution to bridge many of the information gaps that exist amongst the consumers and formation of local food councils can address this problem to some extent.

"But how can we take the issues raised in these movies and books and address them in our own communities? The answer for many people is food councils. Food councils are "cropping up" — pun intended — and are beginning to make some impact. There may even be one in your community. Members of food councils include farmers, gardeners, food suppliers, chefs, teachers, nutritionists, city staff and interested people in the community. They come from different backgrounds and areas of expertise but have one thing in common — they are dedicated to improving local food systems. A food system includes how our food is grown, processed, distributed, packaged, accessed and purchased and includes policies that affect these areas as well. Examples of projects that food councils may work on include, starting or helping to start community gardens and kitchens, building awareness in the community about food systems, teaching food skills and working with local government to create policies and bylaws that support local agriculture. Food councils are not exclusive! They are always looking for people who are passionate about food, people and local food systems. If you would like to get involved, find out if there is one in your community".

Before such new concepts are broached in a country like India, logistics of forming local food councils must be taken into consideration. It is true that democracy is deep rooted in the country and such a tradition should enable people with different backgrounds work together for common good. But same democratic tradition may work against the smooth functioning of a diverse group. For successful working of such councils politics, government and vested interests are to be kept out of the loop to prevent discord and abuse. There must also be a healthy respect to the views of technocrat members of the council who provide valuable information regarding foods, nutrition and health which only can serve the purpose of education and creation of awareness about many critical aspects of food production, processing, safety, industry and environmental aspects.


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