Naini Setalvad gives some sound advice on how to befriend the Earth
We live in a crazy time when people who make food choices that are healthy and compassionate are often considered odd, while those whose food choices promote disease and environmental degradation are considered normal. It is time to change our ways and take notice of how environmental destruction, our nutritional needs, and lifestyle diseases are interconnected.
.What the Fish!
Who doesn’t like fresh sushi or a spicy fish curry? But what if the same seafood fare that we enjoy is the cause of diseases? Industrial effluents and carcinogenic chemicals find their way into waterbodies. These chemicals are absorbed into the tissues of the fish from the polluted water and, subsequently, make their way to our dinner table. Keeping water clean and unpolluted is not only aesthetic but also good for your health.
. Water warning
The fact that water is the elixir of life cannot be denied. However, due to the ongoing climate change, it might be causing us more harm than good. Because of the effect of greenhouse gases, the temperature of the Earth is rising, and so is that of the waterbodies. The warmer the waterbodies, the more the growth of infection-causing germs. To make water safe, sanitation efforts like chlorination are required. Chlorinated water has been linked to excessive inflammation in the body. This paves the way for many health issues, including cancer.
.Plastic is passé
The production of plastic releases greenhouse gases into the environment, which negatively impacts the climate and contributes to global warming. The use of plastic products like utensils and food storage containers allows phthalates to seep into our food and beverages. Phthalates, which are believed to be toxic, are also linked to the worsening symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (POS).
Can the colours
Colourful things are attractive but not necessarily safe. The consumption of food dyes has increased by 500 per cent in recent times and, concurrently, so has its production. When food industries discharge these dyes into the water, it reduces the transparency of waterbodies, allowing less light to penetrate the seaweed and other marine plants. This impacts the lives of all aquatic flora and fauna. Food dyes have also been linked to mental disorders such as autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Keep a check on the CO2
Rising carbon dioxide levels not only impact respiratory health but also have a massive impact on the nutritional quality of food. It is said that if the CO2 levels continue to rise, there will be a 5–15 per cent decrease in iron, zinc, and protein levels in rice, wheat, corn, and soy. These nutrients are integral to the human diet. Adequate iron levels are necessary for respiration and blood circulation; zinc, an antioxidant, works at the DNA level; and protein is required for all the enzymes, hormones, and muscles in the body.
Save the soil
Heavy metals are waste products from manufacturing and chemical plants that find their way into the soil and affect its quality. The agricultural produce that grows in this soil absorbs these heavy metals. This, in turn, is consumed by humans and animals. Accumulation of heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium in the body can lead to the growth of cancerous tissue.
To maintain a healthy, disease-free lifestyle, one needs to consume fibre-packed plant produce such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and lentils. However, this food, although nutritious, can also be poisonous, as it is heavily laced with pesticides and fertilisers, and hence it is not so beneficial. In fact, it can be a carrier of toxic chemicals like DDT, ethylene oxide, etc. It is practically impossible to always eat organic, but, by ensuring that you eat seasonal and local produce, there is a smaller chance of there being pesticides and fertilisers in it.
Secure the soil
Plant-based produce is essential to our dietary needs. In the absence of soil cover, plants can’t grow, and so we miss out on disease-preventing nutrients. There is no replacement for plant-based fibre, and a diet deficient in it is an invitation to gastric and intestinal cancers. To prevent soil erosion, one needs forest cover. Cutting down forest lands for industrial and residential use has a big impact on our food system. It also increases CO2 levels in the atmosphere, further worsening climate change.
So, the next time you disregard the environment and opt for unsustainable ways, do keep this in mind:
Man did not weave the web of life; he is simply a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Raw Mango Rice
1 raw green mango
chopped ginger, 1 piece
2 green chillies
1 cup rice
salt to taste
2 tsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
fresh curry leaves (optional)
1/4 cup peanuts
garnish: 1 cup chopped coriander
Cook the rice so that each grain is separate, and let it cool.
Peel and grate the raw mango.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the seasoning. Fry for a minute and then add ginger, green chillies, and shredded mangoes. Keep stirring for a few minutes till the mango gets cooked. Take care that the mango does not lose its colour.
Mix it with rice, garnish with chopped coriander, and serve hot or cold.
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