Let’s Talk about some Edible Issues

The Edible Issues team in association with The Bombay Canteen hosted a panel discussion as part of the monthly canteen class, recently.

The panel included 4 very diverse and reputed people in their respective fields, all working towards the betterment of the food system. More about the interesting discussions, here.

In conclusion, we asked the panel to name one important edible issue. The idea behind that was to bring into limelight some important issues in the food system that lurk there but are never discussed.

Obviously asking such eminent people who live and breathe food, to name one important issue is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child (it’s always the firstborn ;)), but luckily they obliged!

Here’s a brief look at some of the important edible issues we discussed.

Consider our animals:

By 2050 we’ll have a population of 9 billion in the world, 1/6th of which will be from India. In addition to the population, growing affluence and changing dietary patterns might further lead to increased demand for meat.

Animal agriculture, the way it is today, is inefficient and leaves behind a huge environmental impact. The need of the hour are plant based alternatives that can help consumers transition into a more sustainable diet. Varun Deshpande, MD India of Good Food Institute (GFI) is working towards that

Organizations like GFI are working towards combating that and promoting plant-based and clean meat alternatives, across the world.

“My job will be done when cultured chicken tikka (lab-grown) is adopted and referred to as just chicken tikka”. — Varun Deshpande

Companies like Good Dot are taking this problem head on and addressing it with tasty meat alternatives.

Sustainability of meat production isn’t the only problem that plant based or clean meat will solve. According to the Indian Dietetic Association, Indian vegetarian diets are 84% protein deficient. An affordable meat alternative could potentially address the problem of protein deficiency in Indian vegetarian diets.

Consider the people:

Eating is often considered to be a personal choice. Although it is, one barely has freedom to choose what to eat. There are various social, political, economical and environmental aspects to it. Kurush Dalal, archaeologist and food historian, spoke about one such important aspect — the morality.

“Freedom of choice towards food is a major issue. Don’t bring morality into food and especially don’t transfer it across geographies.” — Kurush Dalal.

This holds true in India, especially in the wake of the recent beef bans. And when the debate about killing of animals leads to killing each other, it’s a problem. As a culturally diverse country, it’s important to honor the multiculturalism of India and let people stick to their personal food choices.

Moral values of food need transitioning towards more sustainable choices.

Consider the people making your food:

As humans, we’ve been deeply connected to our food making process, but over the last 40 years, there’s a wide disconnect. Thomas Zacharias, chef and partner at The Bombay Canteen, highlighted this important issue.

“There’s a huge divide between people producing and consuming the food.” — Thomas Zacharias

It’s important to be aware of where and how our food is grown, produced and processed. An individual’s food choices can determine what grows.

The gap between the farmer and consumer is a gap that has been exploited by middlemen in dictating what is grown and what is sold, taking us away from our rich food history. #KnowYourDesiVegetables is an interesting social media campaign by the chef in shedding light on some of our “forgotten” foods.

Consider Education:

At the core of all these important issues is awareness. Spreading awareness and getting people to notice is a colossal task. Sara Roversi, founder of Future Food Institute spoke about this.

“Education is key for building the next generation of conscious food people”— Sara Roversi

Through the Food Innovation Program (the birthplace of Edible Issues, ahem!), Sara is educating and inspiring the next generation of food innovators.

Studying food is considered to be hotel management or culinary arts, food is much more broader and beyond that, and touches almost all other industries. Which brings us to another crucial point that Sara highlighted: The role of a chef.

The role of a chef as we know has expanded and is increasingly breaking boundaries. Their impact in shaping the industry and influencing their followers is enormous!

“Chefs like you are also activists” — Sara to Thomas

One such initiative that focuses on chefs who improve society with gastronomy is the Basque Culinary World Prize.

That’s it from us. The stage is now all yours. Tell us what is the most important edible issue in India according to you?

Don’t pass that mic. We’re listening!

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