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What. How. Why…..or reverse?

June 27, 2013

Though I intended to write this to commemorate the WED 2013 theme, ‘Think.Eat.Save’, it took me a while to think how much I practice what I believe in…..

Shall try to pour out those ‘beliefs’ to you…and to what extent they can be practiced….

I was listening to a TED talk by Simon Sinek the other day on ‘inspiration’. The speaker was just too good while explaining the Golden Circle that governs human actions – ‘What, How, and Why’. Consider any human action and you would find that this logic can be applied to justify all our intentions. We generally start by asking ourselves ‘What’, followed by ‘How’ and ending with ‘Why’. And you are not the only one…a general consensus says that 86% of the human population follows this sequential logic to draw a rationale on their actions.

Let me try drawing this logic in the context of food consumed by us, ‘Humans’. Think of a situation when you are at work, lots of tasks pending, hands of the clock is just striking 12 noon and there is still one long long hour for the lunch break to start! God you’re hungry and the moles in your tummy have started their marathon already!! Immediate question – “What do I eat now”? You answer yourself promptly…”I can eat ‘x’.”Next Question “How will I get it”? Another answer, “The packet of chips is in the pantry”…Lastly (if at all), “Why am I eating ‘x’ and not ‘y’? Rarely can we sustain our hunger till the last question….as soon as we know what to eat and how to get it, we have almost won the challenge. ‘Why’ remains unanswered as usual…

Strangely, it has been found that an answer to this question ‘why’ could be the magic key to  open the treasure box that contains unheard facets of human survival. In other words, if we knew ‘why’ we are consuming as much as we do, we would discover how we can reduce our consumption and what should be the action for doing the same. Instead of following the top-down approach we need a bottom-up approach where we should question our consumption – Why do we eat ‘x’…..next question, ‘how do get to eat ‘x’….the last one, ‘what should we do to eat x’.

An example at this juncture will give a clearer picture of my logic. Irrespective of the fact whether we are vegetarians or non-vegetarians, do we ever question ourselves at the dinner table, “why are we eating a curry made of frozen peas or salad with preserved chicken sausages’? “Why couldn’t we prefer the fresh ingredients instead of buying packed and preserved food”? “Who would have grown these vegetables and how”? “What would the poultry have been fed with”?…….The Q&A session goes on till long….

If only we could think this way, would we realize what impact our choices as a ‘consumer’ would have on the environment, the economy and everyone’s quality of life in the ecosystem.

If only we could make a responsible choice and align it with the natural cycles of the earth, we, as individuals would have taken great leaps for survival of mankind.

Human consumption of food marks a confluence of economic, environmental and social sustainability. When we know why we are eating a pack of chips that is contained in a plastic or a non-biodegradable bag, we would ourselves discover how to get rid of the habit, and what other options to look for as a ‘crunchy munchy’ with the evening tea!

To make your kitchen and your eating style sustainable, here are a few tips from my side (I am trying to follow them myself, so trust me they aren’t that difficult)-

  • Buy locally sourced or grown food
  • Avoid packaged and preserved food. They are mostly energy consuming, non-biodegradable burden for the earth.
  • Try shopping from farmers’ markets or local ‘mandis’. Those red and yellow bell peppers in shopping malls’ refrigerators may look good….but they are unfortunately taking away some hours of your or your dear ones’ lives by being preserved and refrigerated
  • For vegetables and greens, keep in mind the health hazards caused by pesticides. Try opting for organic vegetables. They might seem expensive now….but would actually turn out to be ‘profitable’ for you in the near future
  • For non-vegetarians, try opting for farmed meat or fish than the wild ones. Also try questioning about what poultry had been fed with, whether they were injected with antibiotics or whether they were grazing on sustainable lands?
  • Try composting or recycling your kitchen waste to complete the cycle. Wherever possible, try growing a kitchen garden.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season – they are the best ones in nutrition and flavor – and of course better for the earth.
  • Lastly, consume as much as you can, and try reducing on your waste.

An article in TOI on 6 June 2013 is titled as “Food worth Rs 58k crore goes waste in India every year”….with 33% of the world poorest people in India, can we afford to lose so much just because of our irresponsible and unethical attitudes…WHY???HOW DO WE STOP THIS?? WHAT SHOULD WE DO NOW???

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One Comment
  1. Srikanth permalink

    A very well articulated and thought provoking blog. I would say you has linked it very well with Simon’s inspiring idea on to excel in life.!

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