Naturopathy By Director NIN
Food: Go Local and Seasonal
Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is being celebrated across the country that reminds us of the 75 years of
independence and (it) provides us a platform to understand our achievements and goals for a better
tomorrow. National Institute of Naturopathy, Pune is conducting Sensitisation Programmes,
involving like-minded people, on ‘Disease-Free India/ Rog-Mukt Bharat’, each month focusing on one
particular aspect of health impact self-care measure.
For the month of April’2022 we focus on the theme: ‘Food: Go Local and Seasonal’.
The pre-industrial Indian society viewed food as giving nourishment physically, intellectually,
culturally and spiritually. The cultural components embedded in Indian society have played their due
role, thus making it even more rich and intricate. While the post-industrial era speaks a language of
food in terms of calories, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, trans-fats, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants,
soluble and insoluble fibre.
A once highly evolved India-centric food culture has now reached a dead end and is facing extreme
turbulence as it negotiates a path riddled with conflicting needs, fads and market forces. The
primary reason for this situation is, Indians, farmers included, have come to consider food as a
commodity. Since commodities have to have some standards and worth, some food crops are
already on their way out, if not disappearing all together. In the inter play of state policy, market
forces and conventional medicine, some foods have become a casualty that they are not considered
worth cultivating and marketable. In the process, the Indian society is paying dearly both ways:
environmental and health wise.
So, there is an urgent need to re-think and re-set our priorities with regard to food also. The changed
dietary habits of a vast population impacted the health of the people at large, apart from hygiene
and sanitation. Vector-borne diseases have been on the rise due to water intensive agricultural
practices, water-borne diseases due to chemical pollution. Once these Persistent Organic Pollutants
(POPs) enter our food chain, as they are water soluble and have an affinity for the fat tissue of living
beings, and get accumulated in the fat tissue and thus disrupt the endocrinal activity. Added to all
this, high carbohydrate diet, devoid of nutrition, is the cause of nutritional related health problems.
The complex food-society-health matrix has a telling effect on the nation’s health and is threatening
to acquire epidemic proportions.
The present-day modern society is embroiled in a dilemma as to what to eat, how much to eat and
when to eat as diversifying information bombards us from all directions. We may be able to
manufacture nutritious food strictly adhering to the modern prescribed standards at great cost to
the environment, but we will not be able to satisfy the diverse tastes and other cultural needs of the
Thus, the guiding principles that should be kept in mind while choosing appropriate food for a given
society are: to eat locally grown foods that the soils would support on a sustainable basis, chemical-
free, energy-efficient foods and foods that are grown out of environmentally sustainable agricultural
practices. The ultimate mantra at individual level is moderation, not ration.
Eat only when hungry.
Many experts, including the architect of Green Revolution M.S. Swaminathan, have called for
diversifying crops and food preferences to eliminate high levels of nutrition deficiency, very often
referred as ‘hidden hunger’. Buying local food keeps local farms economically viable by creating local
jobs at farms and in local food processing and distribution systems. Local food travels much less
distance to nearby market than a typical fresh or processed grocery food store, therefore using less
fuel and generating fewer greenhouse gases. Because of the shorter distribution chains for local
foods, less food is wasted in distribution and storage. Local food is fresher, healthier and tastes
better, because it spends less time in transit from farm to plate and, therefore, loses fewer nutrients
and incurs less spoilage. Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture, which reduces the
reliance on monoculture—single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils. Local foods
promote agri-tourism: by way of providing for farmers’ markets in their villages and opportunities to
visit those farms. Local foods create more vibrant communities by connecting people with the
farmers and food producers who bring them healthy local foods. The only disadvantage with local
foods is, at times, it may be monotonous and sometimes creates short supplies and scarcities.
But in the light of all the above advantages it is prudent that we eat local, seasonal and sustainable
foods as it contributes to less food miles and, thus, low carbon emissions.