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Food for the future

  • Published at 06:01 pm May 8th, 2019
Plants, crops
Representational photo

Are our diets harming the environment?

By now, it is obvious that governments alone can’t tackle the different elements of climate control on their own. When it comes to food production, the onus is on personal choices of the individual, and that has to be backed by business concerns paving the way for habitual progression. 

It is, therefore, a coincidence that the UK’s report on climate change mitigation contains the advice for people to consume less meat and the IPO of a food enterprise offering meatless burger patties and sausages. As it is fast food is frowned upon by physicians, but that may change given these patties have soy as the main ingredient.

The UK report is something to learn from with its advice to travel less by air and more by environment-friendly trains and a ban on all but electric cars by 2030 as well as reducing dependency on meat for diet.

This, in turn, will put further pressure on agricultural practices where controversy rages between organic and non-organic produce. 

The World Food Program issued a warning some years ago that the sustainability of agriculture was at stake due to industrialization and unplanned housing extensions.

Both of these elements strike at the heart of big businesses, given the penchant of speedier travel movement and basic food habits.

These fit in well, at least for now with developed economies like the UK -- seeking zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The wobbly crown rests in the developing world where food production and travel is fast -- becoming dependent on genetically modified crops and carbon-emitting modes of transportation. 

It is also a wake-up call for countries such as China, where the fog of pollution hangs heavy on the capital Beijing.

Whether similar plans will or will not be embraced by these countries remains to be seen -- given the implications of large businesses that are only beginning to get the basics worked out. Such measures also require significant paring-up of technology that isn’t readily available or affordable.

In India and Bangladesh, agriculture isn’t driven by technology, and mechanized transport is still run on fossil fuel-heavy in carbon.

Electric or hybrid transport hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm yesterday with electricity production too wrapped in discord over its transformation. 

The call is for wind turbines and solar sourcing to produce electricity, both of which are far more expensive than traditional hydro-electric and even nuclear-powered plants. Germany leads the few countries that are seeking to come out of nuclear energy, but others including Bangladesh have only recently committed to investing for the same nuclear energy that is designed to meet power hungry industrialization and housing.

The meat-free company’s IPO has stirred the imagination since debuting on the New York stock exchange though it is nothing new. Burger King introduced “no meat Whopper” a while ago, but strangely didn’t make much headway. 

With the millennial and post-millennial generation expressing their discontent with politicians, the meat-free burger may be the harbinger of newer things to come. 

The new focus on the consumption of insects mixed with traditional food is another form of gaining protein nutrition in place of meat, but somehow that doesn’t appeal to the palate. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.

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