Some of the many genius and intelligent people of our glorious past have left us with quite some valuable ideals that have kept us in the light about the true value of food in our lives. Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach said, “Man is what He eats” On the other hand, German philosopher and anthropologist said,”There is no sincerer love than the love of food”. However, even all these quotes sound quite plain and banal when compared to the intricately designed opinion of the German theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein. “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet”
The question is, why are these people coming all the way out of their fields of expertise to provide us with their insights of food? The answer is that they, along with many others, have realized the implications of a consumption based society. We are slowly relying on the people’s needs for food and drinks. When we talk about food, we never keep in mind those necessary for the survival of other creatures and plant life. Also, we fail to consider the food security of the soil, wildlife and mountain ranges. one of the major examples of lack of food security is the highly profited “Green Revolution”.
The Green Revolution was brought about with the help of brand new chemical fertilizers, pesticides, power pumps and high-yield seeds right from the ’80s and served primarily for the extensive production of food for the global population. In order to do so, the soils were exposed to high levels of pesticides and fertilizers. Hormones, carbides and formalin became the primary for this agenda and thus, the natural ecosystem became damaged. Plants and animals were deviated from nature and thus their survival became endangered as their food sources slowly began to be limited. The ‘food industry’ and food scarcity became the main conflicting factors and this race for survival slowly pushed all life forms to adapt to extreme conditions. For plants and animals, the main concern became the conditions of the soil. This soil began to be treated with medicines for high crop yield and risked the food security for other life forms. Therefore, we must start raising our voices against the destruction of food sources of other plants and animals. Humans cannot ensure their survival by selfishly removing the food security of others. Thus, only by creating a balanced and ecologically safe means of food production of all life can nature be restored to its previous serene state.
The food cycle of our ecosystem is vast. Food is not only limited to one specific species or life form. For example, let us look at the saharaham figs used by the tribal people in Choyltachora located in Srimongal, Moulvibazar. The figs that grow there are used to cultivate betel leaves. They also eat this particular fig when ripe. However, people are not the species that it serves. Ants and small insects live on its juice while birds eat and spread the seeds of the fig to serve growth of new figs. Once living vitally on the nutrients of the soil, the figs then themselves become vital for the nourishment of the soil after they die. So, how can food be related to one particular species when it is a major player of such a big food chain? This is easily applicable to any other food item in the world. Food and the dependency it causes should therefore always be considered and respected, and not used as factors of calories present.
The fight for food is universal as food is the main component for man’s survival. As Sukumari Bhattacharji wrote in his books Beder jooge khudha and Khadya strife for food persisted even in the time of the beds. This hunger then results in the growth of food businesses and other social unfair ties. Geoff Tansey’s 2008 book The future control of Food provided statistics that shows 850 million people of the world suffering from malnourishment, whereas a billion people are overweight, 300 million among them considered obese. most of them belong to the developing countries. However, when we talk about food, we do not consider food for animals or others, apart from humans. But, we are quick to notice that tigers start entering villages and hunting down the villagers or preying on the animals of the forests. We fail to realize that this occurs mostly because of lack of food.
People say that different people have different tastes. Different food cultures develop in different areas according to these tastes. For example, Bengali people prefer spicy and oily food much more than the tribal people. Even here, when we talk about food tastes, we only talk about the preferences of humans. We all want fresh milk without ever considering the well-being of the cows. We want formalin-free fruits while we continue to spoil the soil that these fruits grow on. We pollute rivers and lakes with our chemical toxic wastes and always demand fresh-water fish for consumption. If we continue to disrupt the food cycle with man-made wastes, how can we expect to obtain fresh produce from nature?
The concept of food security is still not accepted by all. By food security, we do not only mean the output power of a country. World food production, business motives, business contracts and agricultural laws and income all contribute to food security. Since land sites are being constantly occupied for mass food production, food markets and farms being created to cope with the food demands. Excessive crop cultivation has led to a decline in the nutrient composition of soils. Hence, demands for these nutrients are also escalating. Various health and environmental problems are being created as a result. But, mass food production still remains the only factor of a nation’s food security. According to farmers, food security can only be obtained when the food industry is in their hands. Providing excess food for one family while keeping the other starved is never a sign of food security of a nation.
Therefore, we stand today at a very tight situation. We are removing ourselves from the natural food chain by trying to create food independence without thinking about other life forms. Lack of food could even causes disagreement and war amongst countries. This must be stopped. Strife for food cannot be prevented through violence. And as the smartest creatures on Earth, we must fight for the survival and complete restoration of food security of all beings, more extensively through the hands of our precious young generation.
Translated by Adit Narayan Adhikary