A sure way to preserve traditional foods and crops rich in nutritional value is by linking them to national and cultural pride, says Dr. Pablo B. Eyzaguirre, senior scientist of Bio Diversity International, Rome.
Food culture is a pilgrimage and the disappearing diversity of food culture is a shame. With the loss of food culture, people did not even know how to ask for such traditional foods. The traditional knowledge about crops and their value was passed down the generations through songs by farmers while working in the fields. “You lost the songs and so you lost the traditional crops,” he explains.
Local foods, their quality and nutritional value need to be linked to appreciate their positive impact on health, Dr. Eyzaguirre said speaking to The Hindu at a CPO-11 Satellite event at National Institute of Nutrition here. With the massive shift in preference of consumers towards rice and wheat, there had been corresponding decline in the production of traditional foods and crops. As a consequence, food grains and pulses rich in nutrient value became expensive now. “Ironically food of the very poor got transformed to food of elite while the poor with no access to traditional food crops, were now falling prey to diabetes, once a lifestyle disease of the rich,” he observed. Thankfully with growing awareness about health food from elite, middle class to the poor, now people are more concerned about what they consume and want to know from where the food came from.
“This welcome change needs to be promoted with education and publicity through media”, he says. Dr. Eyzaguirre, who was involved in launching a public movement in East Africa for preservation and conservation of lot of indigenous vegetables and fruits, said farming systems, which produced nutrient foods needed to be supported. “India has rich source of pulses such as lentils, pigeon pea, chickpea. Every country needs to pay attention to its own food space,” he said.