The UN has come up with 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The top two are no poverty and zero hunger. It does seem that ending poverty will also end hunger, but we now have a new phenomenon—hidden hunger. It is micro-nutrient deficiency that is caused when the body doesn’t receive or isn’t able to assimilate vitamins and minerals in the amounts necessary for optimum health. Earlier thought of as something only poor or developing countries faced, it’s a phenomenon prevalent across the globe. Vitamin D or Vitamin B12 and even iron deficiencies, for example.
The problem is that micronutrient deficiencies have no physical symptom associated with hunger and malnourishment. But if you look at the khate peete ghar ke log in our societies, then wouldn’t you call their lack of energy, over-dependence on tea/coffee/ cigarettes/chocolates, and irritability a sign of hunger and malnourishment? But since it’s the norm, your hidden hunger passes off as normal. Until there’s a blood test, post which you get on a resolve to lose weight and as a byproduct cut calories, carbs and sugar.
Which brings us to the third SDG—health and well-being. If that should follow the end of hunger, then what you eat must be real, fresh and perishable. And that’s exactly why food education cannot be limited to carbohydrate, fat and protein, it has to be about the bigger picture. About the fact that it’s not enough to get food, we must receive good quality food and for that we must begin to understand wellbeing from the farmer-trader-consumer axis too. Food, after all, is multidisciplinary—one involving religion, culture, government policies, genetic differences, climates etc. The need of the hour is the soil to soul approach.