The World Today

From Janani: Annadwai Pranah – Food is Prana, Swami Prembhava Saraswati

We see an ascending pattern everywhere in nature. A progressive, evolutionary movement from the mineral to the vegetable world, and an upward trend which is said to culminate in man. We thus consider ourselves to be the supreme peak, and fail to think of any further evolution. He busies himself with external objects and tries to capture nature for his own ends. This is very sad. He forgets that he still has a long way to climb, and that he is still unfinished material.

—Swami Satyananda Saraswati

In today’s modern society people are driven and obsessed with food. There seems to be a new diet or a new superpower food on the market every few months. In a world where every kind of food is available all year round, even seasonal fruits and vegetables, and every form of cuisine is available just a phone call away, one can lose the understanding of what kind of food is best for one’s body and mind. The lives of most people have become so busy there is little time to think, plan and prepare the daily meals. What used to be a major part of life has been narrowed down to an activity that is processed, packaged, quick and easy to use, and meals are eaten at any time of day. For this reason, many people are suffering from diet-related disorders that could be easily cured with nutritious food and the correct attitude to food and eating. The food we consume should be carefully chosen and eaten with understanding and awareness. Meals must become a part of one’s holistic lifestyle, behaviour and philosophy.

The affluent and the non-affluent

There are many different kinds of diets around the world and the people who have the luxury to make a choice of their diets are lucky and should consider the millions of children and families around the world who barely eat one meal a day. Millions of people around the world do not have the luxury to choose what they eat but rather survive on what they can find available in their local area.

While 20% of the world population struggle with diets, obesity and obesity-related diseases, nearly 80% of the population live in poverty, struggling to find one meal a day. Even in countries like the USA, one person in six is ‘food insecure’, people who do not know where their next meal will come from.

There is enough food for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.

—Mahatma Gandhi

Food waste

Modern society wastes enormous amounts of food, approximately one third of the food produced globally is wasted, an amount that could feed millions of people three meals a day.

Along with this huge amount of waste, all the natural resources used for growing, processing, manufacturing, packaging, transporting and marketing that food are wasted. The agricultural land used for growing food is also wasted. It is estimated that the water used for the production of the globally wasted food could provide enough water for all the world’s household water use.

A large portion of the wasted food is thrown into landfills. Landfills of food waste release methane, which is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases and ten times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide . Studies have shown that if food waste was a country it would rank third in the list of countries emitting most greenhouse gases.

Food consumption

Food consumption has become an obsession in the modern world. People are eating too much in quantity and poorly in quality. Nature has provided the vitamins and minerals, the proteins and carbohydrates, the fats and oils, everything we require. We do not have to eat processed and fast foods, but we choose to. Our consumption of processed and packaged food, excess meat eating and food waste has led to our species literally changing the face of the earth. We have cut down forests to graze cattle for meat, we have turned deserts into highly productive greenhouses. We have polluted oceans and deserts alike with the waste and plastic of our throwaway society. Even in the deepest rainforest a plastic bottle can be found.

Improving distribution, reducing waste and reducing consumption of processed and fast foods should be a priority, if we wish to feed all people on the planet and protect our valuable natural resources. With speedily increasing populations and heavily polluted and depleted natural resources like soil and water there has to be a change in our relationship with food and diet.

What is required is a new attitude and respect for the food we ourselves and all people and beings on this earth require for health and survival. This can only begin with our own personal eating habits and attitudes. We must make the correct choices of what we eat and how much we eat. This is yogic living. Yogic lifestyle offers us a way to live a healthy, balanced and happy life with respect towards Mother Earth, our provider and sustainer of life.