Thursday, June 27, 2013


When one looks at the phenomenal growth of organic food industry, there is an inescapable yearn among the people to day for things of the past, their ancestors were used to centuries ago! Why this change in attitude towards food that is consumed every day? Because the rampant spread of modern day diseases like CVD, Obesity, Diabetes, Blood Pressure, Cancer, Kidney disorders etc is awakening people regarding the link between the food and diseases. To day awareness about health is rising rapidly as educational levels are increasing due to economic development. This is precisely the reason why organic foods are finding increasing shelf space in supermarkets all over the world. To what extent the modern civilization must take responsibility for destroying the old culture that ensured production of nutritionally healthy agricultural crops, replacing it with "nice" looking food crops through mechanized cultivation techniques and hybridized crops that contain progressively less and less nutrients. Whether it is modern tomato or the good looking white maize the story is same. Man seems to have dug a hole for himself by these reckless short sighted evolutionary activities from where it is difficult to climb! Here is a critique on the transformation of old age agriculture into the modern industrial agriculture which is indeed very revealing! 

"Is the quality of our food decreasing as quantities increase? There is no doubt that industrial agriculture is extremely successful in producing food abundantly, but does the plant breeding that delivers big yields - along with the pesticides and fertilizers that compromise environmental safety - also result in lower-quality food? In a recent column I reported that tomatoes are now a pale facsimile of their formerly delicious selves, containing fewer nutrients and more sodium than they did when they tasted good. It seems that tomato breeders looking for qualities like transportability neglected nutrition. Now scientists are reporting that many of our foods have also become low in certain nutrients, including phytonutrients, the compounds that help reduce the incidence of four major modern health threats: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. Declining food quality is not a new thing, but industrial agriculture's emphasis on volume over quality has accelerated the pace of nutrient loss. "Each fruit and vegetable in our stores has a unique history of nutrient loss," journalist Jo Robinson reports in the New York Times, "but there are two common themes. Throughout the ages, our farming ancestors have chosen the least bitter plants to grow in their gardens. It is now known that many of the most beneficial phytonutrients have a bitter, sour or astringent taste. Second, early farmers favoured plants that were relatively low in fibre and high in sugar, starch and oil. These energy-dense plants were pleasurable to eat and provided the calories needed to fuel a strenuous lifestyle. The more palatable our fruits and vegetables became, however, the less advantageous they were for our health."

Nutrition and health paradigm has significantly changed during the last 6-7 decades and human beings are discovering what they have lost by their reckless pursuit of high productivity, increased profitability and palate comfort. Foods devoid of fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals etc are wreaking havoc with the health of humans and if diseases like CVD, Diabetes, Cancer, Blood Pressure, Kidney disorder etc are becoming the norm rather than exception, only the modern agriculture system needs to be blamed. Added to these woes comes the much hyped GMO foods which has divided the world vertically into opposing camps vis-a-vis their relevance and safety. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the thinking of the industry, scientists, consumers, policy makers and farmers regarding the best way to make the food more healthy and nutritious, forgetting the past baggage! 


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