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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Eating Under Threat!

Article first published as India: Eating Under Threat! on Technorati.

If you have already given up the smoking and drinking habits you have hardly done enough. You find yourself in a greater and debilitating dilemma about what to eat or drink or what not to from the fast diminishing options. If you thought only plain simple fats had been making you fatter all the years, now you had to worry about trans fat too.

If you have loved the fast foods now is the time to go slow. Fast foods are also called junk food. You must be aware what junk food is. Well, it means foods without having enough nutritional value, but scoring high on fats, salt, sugar and calories. You must never fall prey to the mouth-watering smell and taste these foods have.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a public interest organization of India, had only the other day come out with its devastating report on junk or fast foods. All of such foods or soft drinks marketed in India by the multinational companies contain much more trans fat, the worst kind of fat, than is advisable as per the international standards of around 2 per cent per person per day, the report says. Just one serving of any such foods like a burger or a plate of noodles or a packet of chips finishes off your quota of fats for the day and as far as sugar intake is concerned it robs you of your sugar quota for two days. Your dream of doodling with your noodles has just about turned into a nightmare. Now, you must look to other options.

Switch over to the traditional foods? Well, what are they? Maybe your glass of steaming hot milk! No! It contains or may contain pesticides thanks to the CSE again and to make matters worse other studies had reported that more than seventy percent of total milk supply in India was adulterated too. You come up with the next viable option—fruits and vegetables. No again! The CSE says all these contain untenable proportions of pesticides due to the increasing use of fertilizers by the farmers. You have to undertake a fresh start to find fresh fruits and vegetables.

Inevitably you turn now to the meaty options. While the red meat has always been a red signal for you in recent years the options of fish and chicken appeal more to you now. But the problem here is that you cannot devour them raw. That is to say, you need some amounts of oil to make it cooked fit for you. The CSE had already made it difficult for you by pointing out high amounts of trans fat or unsaturated fat in all brands of edible oil. Now you must launch yourself on an exhaustively original and creative search for your food options.

There are many pointing fingers towards a utter lack of regulatory laws or enactment of only weak and ineffectual laws in India regarding showing and labeling of fat ingredients on branded foods. Due to this lacuna the multinational brands allegedly put up labels showing zero trans fat content in their products just to derive the marketing advantage. To make things more complicated no one is asking the street vendors and country eating joints as to what are being used and in what quantities in their hot selling dishes.

And what about the Indian society standards with a high hospitality quotient and a seemingly unending stream of parties, get-together and congregations. You can control your own kitchen to some extent no doubt, but you just cannot walk up to the hosts or organizers and demand to know the trans fat content in the food served—that too free.

Cynics would tell you to choose or reject as per your judgment hardly knowing the fact that you are fast running out of options. For the time being it seems a free mind, a daily routine of strenuous physical activity and moderation is the ideal menu for you. Maybe your favorite or compulsive rice-plate at your favorite canteen is also okay!


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