Stop eating plastic

Study finds parents prefer packing food in plastic boxes.

Chennai: Fourteen per cent of school children carry hot lunch in plastic tiffin boxes, their parents regarding this a handy and stylish thing to do. A study, conducted by the Consumer Association of India (CAI) and Business School, University of Sydney, Australia, in 25 schools, both government and private, by checking students’ meals and containers, brought this fact to light. Nutritionists and food safety experts say that it’s unhealthy to pack hot food in plastic boxes. “Metal tiffin boxes are the best for carrying food,” they said.

G.Santhanarajan, principal of Concert food and drug-testing lab, said, “When hot food or water is stored in a plastic container, Biphenol-A, a chemical, is released from plastic as it reacts to the heat. This chemical disrupts the functioning of the endocrine glands in the body. Continuous exposure to Biphenol-A is one of the factors leading to hypothyroid disorder.”

He added that during the survey, principals of many city schools learnt about the disadvantages of plastic tiffin boxes and told their students to switch to metal. He said that it was safe to AVOID plastic spoons, plates and water bottles.

According to the study, some parents packed pizzas, burgers, noodles and other fried junk food items for their children’s lunch. “We observed the lunch boxes of 300 children for one week. We learnt that only five per cent of children buy food from shops or hotels for lunch. A majority of children bring food prepared by their mothers or grandmothers.

In some cases, parents pack junk food for lunch because they couldn’t cook fresh food in the morning as they were rushing to work,” said Nirmala Desikan of CAI. She added that only 28 out of 2,941 food items which they observed over the week, had fruits and vegetables.

While 84 per cent of children enjoyed home-cooked food, 0.4 per cent disliked lunch from home. Fifteen per cent of children were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. They said they had no other option but to eat what was given to them as they couldn’t afford to have tasty food items, said CAI members.

Next: Enjoy having desi food, shun imported

Enjoy having desi food, shun imported

Chennai: Eat Kashmir apples instead of Washington apples. Pick up Nagpur oranges and not exotic imported fruits. Xavier Chrisso Nayagam, director of the Social Welfare Department in the city, speaking on Monday at the release of a study on school children’s lunch boxes, conducted by the Consumer Association of India (CAI) and University of Sydney, gave a list of local food grains and fruits that should be consumed for a healthy life.

“There is a misconception that has been spread that non-vegetarian food is unhealthy,” he said. “The truth is that non-veg food is rich in protein and the best in battling cold weather. Since we live in a tropical country, we can sustain ourselves on vegetarian food, but low intake of non-veg food will not do any harm,” he added.

He added that consuming locally prepared baked items, like cookies and sweets, was better than having biscuits and candy marketed by multinational firms. “Locally prepared cookies will go bad within a week. In the case of MNC biscuits, they can be stored for more than a month because of additives,” he said.

Speaking of the success of the noon meal scheme in Tamil Nadu, Nayagam said, “The government spends Rs 6.25 per child and covers more than 50 lakh childr­en in the free noon meal scheme. Apart from the meal, the government pr­o­vides three eggs a week and fruits for children who do not take eggs.”

Dr Varsha of the Indian Institute of Nutritional Sciences, said that a balanced diet was important for a healthy life. “Once in a while you can consume junk food. Dieting doesn’t mean eating only raw vegetables and staying away from tasty food.

Take seasonal fruits, vegetables, non-veg, nuts and grains in a balanced proportion. Never skip breakfast. Curtail in-between snacking and make sure the snack doesn’t affect the meal schedule. There should be at least three hours’ gap between every meal,” said Dr Varsha.

Next: Humble millet’s stock rises

Humble millet’s stock rises

Pramila Krishnan |?DC

Chennai: Women’s Collective, a voluntary body in Chennai, has been making good profits, supplying crisp millet biscuits and other snacks for marriages, literary fests and college programmes, undertaking everything from cultivation of millets to marketing.

Women’s Collective director Sheelu Francis told DC that a self-help group in Madurai district was now engaged in hand pounding millets to improve the taste of the snacks.

“Samai and kelveragu laddu are preferred in marriages and at book release festivals. Health-conscious, young working groups in private firms contact us with orders for millet meals. Whenever we receive bulk orders, we procure millet grains from districts down south and grind them to prepare fresh sweets and snacks,” said Sheelu.

Women farmers in Tirunelveli, Madurai, Dharmapuri, Tiruvallur and Tiruvannamalai maintain a seed bank of millet grains. “Organic farming methods are followed to harvest crops and seed banks are replenished with fresh produce,” she added.

K. Jothi works with 60 women farmers in Madurai district. “We have trained our farmers to handle the millet crops. They were engaged in paddy cultivation all these years. We expect to harvest at least 500 kg of various millets by June. It’s encouraging that many more farmers are now showing interest in millet cultivation,” she said.

( Source : dc )
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