‘We are what we eat’ is one of the maxims of Ayurveda. And what we eat matters not only to ourselves but also to our planet.
When the entire world is talking about reducing carbon footprint, how can the food industry be left behind? Restaurants, chefs and food delivery apps are embracing new technologies and responding to the climate emergency in different ways. From sourcing seasonal and local ingredients and practicing nose-to-tail cooking (ethical, sustainable use of the whole animal) to providing leaf or paper plates and eco-friendly packaging, a conscious effort is being made to ensure zero waste.
“I think the entire world is moving towards cleaner cuisine; people are not really asking how something is made, they ask where it is coming from. They want to know if it is tested for pesticides or if people were exploited to make a particular product. The wellness and feel-good factors are becoming very important,” says celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani. “It’s a way of life starting from garbage separation in your house, not bringing in too much of plastic and getting rid of plastic and using better materials like copper and brass,” he adds. Buying directly from farmers, encouraging local artisans and eating seasonal fruit are all important, he says and points out that now different varieties of cereals and legumes are easily available, and should be included in our diet.
Revolutionary changes are taking place not only in food production but also in packaging, feels Rupinder Kaur, adding that some shops have done away with plastic packaging even for dry food items. People have to bring their own containers for rice, pulses and even liquid soaps. There’s more to responsible consumption than the government banning plastic from time to time.
Items like combs, toothbrushes and straws made of biodegradable material are available in organic and eco-friendly stores and farmers’ markets, and online as well, says Rupinder, who has written a few books on raw foods.
So how should consumers make the shift to reduce their carbon footprints?
“Buying fresh vegetables from the market and stopping consumption of red meat or reducing it to a minimum are two ways. Veganism is also gaining popularity,” notes Vicky. “When I was living abroad there was something called protein flips — lots of vegetables accompanied by a piece of meat or a fish,” he recalled and added, “Buying crockery directly from artisans who use organic colours, growing your own vegetables at home and undertaking lacto-fermentation for gut friendly food are also becoming popular.”
Food bloggers also educating people about reducing their carbon footprints. “There are talks, demos, movies and books, to educate people. Awareness is spreading. “People are facing reality and are ready to make a switch. Even a small step in this direction is huge,” says Rupinder.
There is a surge in the awareness for sure, agrees chef Amey Marathe, but adds that, “We are still very far from really making a difference.” Marathe and his wife Sujata work to transform food waste and greenhouse gases into useful fuels and green energy. “It’s very heartening to see the industry responding to the climate change issue, but I personally feel it’s still very superficial. We need to dig deeper, do things which really make a difference for future generations,” cautions Amey.