Have you heard how we are actually negatively affecting the environment by consuming food? Believe it or not, natural crops, grains, unprocessed food also has a role in degrading the environment. Beyond this, cattle also hit our ecosystems hard, as they release greenhouse gases equal to at least 13.3kg of carbon dioxide, which is as much as burning as 6 liters of petrol.
Producing the big three crops, rice, wheat, and maize, requires substantial water and care. Due to climate volatility, they also need increased fertilizers and pesticides. Not only that, you will need fertile land to produce these crops. Then, one must consider how these products must be shipped all over the world. Even though with modern technology and key logistics software, the transportation and handling effect can be cut, there still remains a considerable amount of emissions.
Among the 7 billion people, 2 billion are said to be over-nourished. Remember, being over-nourished means, people are prone to more diseases. Evidently, the current food habits throughout the world are serving no one. Doctors, scientists, and nutritionists worldwide are discussing how to better tackle global waste and to work out ways nations can become more sustainable moving forward. They have started focusing more on “nutrition security” rather than “food security”.
Recently, the UN has put more importance on achieving “sustainable diets.” And has set the goal to transform people’s lives for the better by no later than 2050! That looks like a long road ahead of us.
Smart Food- the Sustainable Diet
Enter Smart Food. An initiative by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Smart Food promises to promote food that is “Good for You, Good for the Planet, Good for the Farmer.” The global initiative was conceptualized back in 2013 and is now jointly led by FARA, CORAF, FANRPAN, and APAARI.
This organization aims to move the world away from the big three- rice, wheat, maize, and guide us to diversify our eating habits. They are now focusing on creating a big five-category as a staple food and then plan to expand it to the big seven. As part of this initiative, they have been advocating for alternatives such as millet and sorghum.
Why the Specific Crops
So, for it to be a smart food, it must meet three specific criteria. The food must be healthy and nutritional, sustainable for the environment, and allow the farmers more flexibility. Millet and sorghum consist of a whole list of nutrition, higher iron, zinc, folate, calcium, antioxidants, protein, fiber, and moderate to low glycemic indices. Making them wonderfully suitable for global communities.
For the environment, the crops become ready for sale in a shorter time and require less water. Unlike other crops, millet and sorghum require fewer nutrients and thus fertilizer.
The farmers should have profited while producing crops. Millet and sorghum promise to have less failure or rotten rate due to more significant drought and heat tolerance. The crops have multipurpose usages, besides food, they are also used for preparing fodder, feed, biofuels, and brewing.
So, international logistics companies are now underway, looking to integrate with technology to better assist the smart food movement. Organizations around the globe are working as advocates to promote the use of smart foods. The initiative is more customer-focused.
Through various programs, they encourage people to use more millet, sorghums, and legumes while decreasing the use of the traditional big three. These advocates have gained good momentum as the USAID supports the initiative along with the Australian government.
The prime minister of India has also voiced his support while the first lady of Niger became the initiative’s ambassador. Logistics and supply chain companies are in support of the shift and aim to provide support to consumers and producers alike.
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