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The packaged food with all its health claims, the marketing, celebrities endorsing and its quirky characters that appeal to the kids, only makes for a good business model for the companies as it helps them maximize their sales but it’s not good for human health.

The local food movement on the other hand, needs to gain greater momentum. Eating locally grown food is the need of the hour and for good reasons-

1. Good health and nutrition– Local foods are foods that are grown around the place you eat. Since the food does not travel as far, they have fewer food miles. Lesser the distance traveled, more the nutrients retained. Fewer food miles essentially mean that it arrives fresh on your plate and is full of nutrients, taste and flavour. When you eat food that is local, you also ensure that you are eating seasonal. Additionally, compared to large factory farms, small farms are most likely to be less aggressive in the use of chemicals, pesticides etc. in their produce.

2. Environmental sustainability– With fewer food miles, local foods save on greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to improve our carbon footprint. Since eating local food eliminates the need to recruit fuel dominant transportations, it can serve to be one of the most effective measures to reduce global warming.

3. Ecological diversity– Protecting our large food diversity and preserving the agricultural gene pool is essential if we want to address issues of global food security and zero hunger. Local crops are climate smart as they adapt to marginal soil and climate conditions and can reduce our dependency on only major crops for food.

4. Local economy– While buying an industrialized and processed food pack off the shelf of a multi department store, you are only funding the big CEO of a giant food company. Instead eating local helps you support the cause of small farmers and indigenous tribes and allows active participation in building local economy.

As the song from the Island Food Community of Pohnpei goes, let’s sing in chorus- “Let’s go local, let’s stay local.


  1. Sustainable development goals

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The story of the fish on your plate: From “food” to “omega3”

The Kolis, Mumbai’s fishermen community, have been celebrating the annual festival of “Nariyal Purnima”, the “Coconut festival” since ancient times, this year being celebrated on 7th August.

During the monsoon season, fishermen take a break and avoid venturing into the high seas. The day of “Nariyal Poornima” marks the end of the monsoon and beginning of the new business fishing season. On this day, the fisherfolk offer coconut to the sea-God and pray for a safe journey ahead in the sea again. As per traditions Kolis know that after this day the wind strength and direction changes in favour of fishing.

Narali Poornima Offerings for safe journey ahead in the sea

Like almost all festivals in India, “Narali Poornima” is also a reminder of the deeper and critical connection of food- health- environment-culture. A reminder of how food diversity is linked to diversity in the biological world and why this biodiversity should be valued at all costs.

The upwelling and nutrient content of the waters during the monsoons is conducive to fish breeding, hence it is important to spare them to breed in their best season. The native fishermen have been taking a break from fishing during the monsoon period before “Nariyal Poornima” since decades now, much before “sustainability” & “sustainable fishing” became the latest buzzwords in health and environment corridors. Since years, public health recommendations to eat more fish for it’s omega 3 fats has led to overfishing, indiscriminate fishing practises and irreversible collapse of marine environment in the oceans globally. Looking at the current trend, marine ecologists predict that fish stocks are set to collapse in 40 years and propose sustainable fishing, in order to restore marine ecosystem health.

Narali Poornima and coconut

The newest diet trend of “Reducetarianism” is about the world waking up to reduce animal protein intake and eating more plant based foods. Since time immemorial, the indigenous fishing community always had a sustainable way of eating its fish. They instinctively had the wisdom to cherish food diversity, to stop eating limited resources like fish so as to allow it to nurture and grow in its best mating season and switch to other essential “plant” based fats like coconut for that time period. They already knew what the latest Nutrition research is now discovering: it’s not about having a single nutrient for heart health, its about having diversity in food. If fishes are good sources of omega 3s, so are nuts, homemade butter and ghee, beans, mangoes, lentils, varieties of rice and many more. During monsoon month like shravan, most people in India have been giving up eating meat and fish and turning “Reducetarian”. Reducetarianism is hence, not a new concept for Indian culture. It’s a new name to it’s ancient philosophy of eating “food” not “nutrients”, of eating in a way that it adds value not only to you, but also causes least possible harm to our planet and maintains ecological balance globally.

References and other related articles

Overfishing: a threat to marine biodiversity – the United Nations

Fish, human health and marine ecosystem health: policies in collision- International Journal of Epidemiology

Biodiversity for a world without hunger- UN FAO

Image credit:Google images

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