Staple foods are the basic foods that are consumed by the people in a given region on a regular basis to fulfill the daily energy and nutritional needs. Staples are usually plant-based products such as rice, wheat, maize, millets, sorghum and so on. Staples are an inherent part of our people’s culture. Interestingly, staples usually provide a bird’s eye view of a local culture, cuisines and dietary habits. In Africa, people rely on cassava, Samna, red palm oil and rice. Whereas in Europe potatoes, wheat, corn, olives are considered as staples. In India, most important staples are rice, pulses, flours, spices, and cooking oils. These are consumed in huge quantities across the country on a daily basis. Without the most essential staples such as rice and pulses, Indians would have a hard time to lead a normal life.
As we consume these staples products every day, it is extremely vital to know how these food products are grown and their impacts on our body as well as on the environment. Very few of us usually think about what we eat daily. If health is your primary concern, you need take control on what you eat each and every day.
Let’s take a deeper look on what we eat every day!
Eating staples or chemicals?
To produce food for mass consumption one of the most obvious and easy ways for cultivators is fertilizers and pesticides, used regularly for better growth of the plants, better crops, and lesser damages. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are more than 700 types of pesticides, insecticides and chemicals such as Ammonium Nitrate, Ammonium Sulfate, zoalene, Boscalid, Deltamethrin, etc. are being used in conventional farming practices. Do you know that these fertilizers and pesticides are never washed away but remain embedded with the crops throughout the supply chain process? For example, Indians eat red chili powder in almost every meal but pesticides like Ethion, Bifenthrin, Chlorpyriphos are still possibly remain in the chili powder. Food items like wheat produced by using harmful pesticides such as organophosphates, and synthetic pyrethroids. Eventually, Staples reach your kitchen with such pesticides and artificial fertilizers including in our processed and packed food products. It takes a whole another blog to look at preservatives, higher sugar, salts, saturated fats in packed food items. US Food and Drug Administration concluded that exposure to chemicals for longer period of time is in relation to several health outcomes, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, infertility, and asthma. And this is just the tip of an iceberg!
If we take some time and think about the number of chemicals that we eat every single day, Its astonishing!
Organic products: Are they Healthy?
One of the obvious solutions to protect our health is to have foods with least or no exposure to conventional pesticides and Insecticides. Organic products are free from GMO crops, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and other toxic pesticides elements that harm the human body. Throughout the process of production, right from cultivation to packaging, no harmful chemicals are being used. US Food and Drug Administration stated that one can avoid 92% chemical residual exposure within a week by just consuming organic food products! Furthermore, articles published on British Journal of Nutrition concluded that organic foods contain substantially higher amounts of Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin C compared to same non-organic foods.
Antioxidants are crucial to our bodies because they detoxify the body and keep the organs healthy. US National Health Institute and National Health Service (NHS), UK mentioned that Organic foods typically provide 69% more important antioxidant phytochemicals. Several studies have proved that there are higher Omega-3 and lower saturated fats in Organic food products.
Studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine has stated that Consumption of organic produce can lower the risks of developing breast cancer. National Health Service (NHS), UK study concluded that consumption of organic food can reduce the risks of breast cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and bowel cancer.
Organic products: Looking at the bigger Picture
Conventional crops cultivation causes immense amount of Water and Soil pollution. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 70% of the surface and underground water pollution is caused by agrochemicals, pesticide residuals and Agri-drugs toxins runoffs. Furthermore, soil degradation and pollution are due to high antibiotic, antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and heavy metal content. Therefore, sensitive ecosystems are being the victims of irreversible ecological damages. At the same time, millions of farm workers are directly exposed to the hazardous chemicals. ILO estimates, at least 170,000 agricultural workers are killed each year due to pesticide-related illnesses such as soft-tissue disorders, dermatitis, noninfectious respiratory conditions, reproductive health problems and cancers.
On the other hand, organic producers use natural pesticides to avoid crop diseases. These natural pesticides are not only safe for us to consume but also to the farm workers and the environment.
Organic products: Are they available in India?
Now we know Naturally produced and chemical-free foods are good for our health. But if you think they are very limited organic products available and hard to find genuine organic produce in India, I must say you’re wrong! Let me explain why.
India has more a million certified organic producers which makes our country with the largest organic producers in the world. There are several Indian organic brands with a wide range of staples such as rice, spices, pulses, flours, oils, honeys and many more. These products are certified by USDA, Indian Organic and EU Organic standards; that means, these products are 100% Organic. Due to organic staples healthier than conventional grocery. The choice of eating organic staples products is thus growing in India rapidly. Now, you can buy certified organic staples online on India.
We all have a choice of eating either chemical-free foods or conventional grocery. So it is crucial to ask ourselves whether to spend on healthy foods or on hospital bills?