Not a recipe in site.. but thoughtful

We’ve got a problem

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

I wonder how the world is going to feed, clothe and house this many people and the increase in the next 100 years.

I would be delighted to discuss this with the natural, self sustaining, organic, bio folk to understand how in the name of all that’s good and sustainable, we are going to do it. Specially how we are going to do it in ways that do not continue to grow the rich poor divide.

The students that I try and help in Pangandaran in East Java, Indonesia, would rarely if ever eat meat, very rarely eat chicken and just occasionally eat fish. They live on greens and rice, they will even have a plate of noodles or rice simply ‘dressed’ with a little peanut sate sauce or just with a chilli tomato sauce for extra taste. Their lives are so dependant on rice and noodles that should either fail, vast numbers of Indonesians (240 million) would starve to death. The divide between rich and poor could not be sharper that that.

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I want to be organic, healthy and aware, I want people to eat well, only the very best they can and use only the very best product in all we manufacture. That in itself is not easy. Am I producing just for the elite? Maybe! How then can I address issues outlined above?

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This question has no simple answer or fix. We are constantly at odds with the big multi nationals for their bad behaviours when it comes to seeds (Monsanto) meats (beef feedlots) GMO foods, additions of chemicals to food, cage bred poultry, and on and on and on… there is much to be unhappy about. And yet in this world we have so much to be happy about.

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I recall my first visit to India many years ago. It was illuminating, an amazing shake up of values that had been drummed into me for a long time, stuff that I believed and lived by. It all just sort of fell down in a huge lump and swung me in the opposite direction. Not a bad thing, but it can be stressful, all the stuff that you hold as true flung into the air. I came home a changed person.

India at that time was still emerging from a long long period of colonial rule, revolution and rebuilding. It had been invaded by hippies who had descended on the place to pursue some spiritual path (just as I was, but I refuse the epithet ‘hippy’). The people of India were on the brink of the industrial revolution, the farmers still using methods from the distant past. India had a certain, untamed charm, a wildness and in so many ways a rightness. It felt good to be in India. It felt good to watch the people in the village weave their own cotton fabric and then have it printed by itinerants who carried with them a quite large selection of wooden print blocks and they were wonderfully adept at printing.

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The pride of the people of India in their faiths, their food and their ability to sustain was inspiring. When you realised that India had nearly a billion people, and that they managed to feed and house them all, it was awesome.

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I think at the time India needed just two things, oil or petrol and iron. Over time that would change as the Indian Industrial Revolution took hold and more and more products were made, the need to import also grew. But what was inspiring was that India fed its people on foods that they had traditionally eaten for many years and it was nutritious. The consumption of meat was low, almost negligible, the consumption of grains and pulses very very high. I recall feeding some street kids in Kathmandu with a bowl of Dahl bhat which cost maybe 10 cents and was a huge bowl of rice, topped with Dhal and a serve of vegetables. It was delicious and healthy and often for the street kids, the only meal of the day. For $3.00 I fed thirty kids a day.

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My point is that should the world wake up and start to realise that it is necessary to relook at food, then there are plenty of example of countries that have done just that. China and India would be prime examples. The key it seems is sustainable agriculture and a diet that is low in animal product and high in vegetables well as simple and uncomplicated food. The vast majority of Asian and Third World diets fit this criteria. It would be hard to imagine a western person who would be able to tolerate and enjoy this form of eating. And yet in the end, it may become non negotiable.

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Western diet has become increasingly complicated, driven by a number of conditions. Availability, time, loss of interest, understanding, sheer laziness have all contributed to a diet that is laden with fats and sugars, that is far from healthy. Even as far back as the middle of last century, western diets were beginning to enter a very unhealthy phase with the inclusion of too much sugar. Much of what has evolved in the western diet over the past 100 years can be seen to be at best questionable if not downright bad, margarine is a good example of highly over processed foods, many breads and much product from fast food chains also are example of where food has gone badly wrong.

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But I wonder if anyone can imagine rolling up to the local fast food outlet and asking for a lentil burger on 100% wholemeal bun? Maybe accompanied by some freshly stir fried Kankung (water spinach). It seems unlikely, but in the end it may well be the beginning of big change as the world starts to understand that the way we live on the 13th June 2013 is completely unsustainable and is doing terrible damage to the planet on which we live as well as to the lives of innocents.

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And yet we have food technologists, major corporations and international businesses, as well as smaller business doing all they can to foster the growth of chemical in food. It is a sad read on a cold damp morning, the world of food no longers commands the sort of respect that it should, but instead is simply a business and the use of chemicals is regarded as just a part of the necessity for making food into money.

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Its not pleasant to read about the import of Chinese fruit into Vietnam that is so polluted, Vietnamese people refused to eat it and refused too to consume any imported fruit and vegetable products resulting in enormous loss of food. It is indeed surprising to note that Australia rejects a great amount of foods from different countries because of fears of various infestations. It is also of great interest that the free trade agreement between New Zealand and China may allow for food to come into Australia via that route.

Where is all this going, I suspect confusion. Its a world where the power of the dollar is the strongest factor and dictates our actions. In business its very hard to resist the buying power of major international corporations, its the bottom line that is the issue, the part where they say to you, in exchange for all this money, this is what we demand! And then fear should set in. You begin to understand that you are at the point of betraying the world, that people in third world countries are not benefiting from your avarice, that the dollars that potentially will flow into your bank account will not mean better food, better lives for those who struggle in countries where life count for nothing.

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My focus is food, its the world that I live in, inhabbit, work in. Its what makes sense to me. Its the way I understand. And I see the world that I knew so well, changing, often disintegrating, loosing. I see the people of the first world extending the way they eat, taking the simple earthy foods of the pheasant poor and making them posh, desirable. I see food gurus combing the market places and eating streets of the third world, looking for new foods to breathlesly introduce to the world. And I wonder how I am to make sense of all this, how I am to wend a way through a labarith that seems to get more and more complicated, difficult.

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There are times when I look at the picture, the population, the terrible issues of the third world, I look at the kids I try and assist in Indonesia, I see the issues of religion starting to make vile headways into the world we live in. (My cousin sent me some insane crap about council elections/sharia law… put into the socialmediaverse by radical Christians and designed to make hatred the way). I see killings in the USA because everyone must have the right to own a gun. I see streets that are clogged with cars (thank goodness for my scooter) I see houses that are so big now it starts to boggle the mind. I see apartments built with no kitchen.  I see the world of food in Australia dominated by very few players. I ask questions of families about what they eat and the answers astound me. We are in a time of amazing change,

Perhaps the most complex thing is that there appears to be no clear answer. No clear way through, nothing that will solve this. I just recieved a copy of Dan Browns latest book, all about this very subject, just a very radical solution as you would expect. Interesting that this whole topic of population, food and feeding is beginning to exercise the worlds writers. Its a pity that it does not exercise the minds of the worlds leaders.

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~ by peterwatsonfood on July 26, 2013.

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