Food for Thought

Review of processed food, packaging and transport. What happens to the leftover after it has been consumed and a look into food production at local production.

It was few days ago that we were all sitting for lunch after class, talking about the weekend. One of my friends talked about his trip back to Italy, where mozzarella is made fresh each day unlike here where it needs to be preserved, consuming so much energy for refrigeration. This made me thinking how much energy is utilized in transport, preservation and packaging.

In busy cities food is generally imported. The local produce is very little. This makes it necessary to import goods and use means to increase the shelf life of these food products, increasingly diminishing the nutrients. The supplies are imported from all places, near and far, sometimes having to use ships and airplanes. After which, everyday trucks of all supermarkets go around their outlet markets to replenish them with new supplies. This only adds to the energy in transport. Also, when the products are imported, a small part is discarded because of damages caused in transportation.

Moreover, for the growing demands of food products from foreign lands, it makes it necessary to use large amounts of packaging, where only a part goes to recycling. The case of excessive packaging also extends to non-food products such as cosmetics and other daily use, where majority of products have to be safe from water and hence, packed in plastics. A major chunk, depending on your location, goes to the trash where it is taken to a dump yard and accumulated. Of course, there are bio compostable products, but in reality, even a paper based product can take upto 70 years to become one with nature. Also, the large amounts of anaerobic respiration releases methane gas which, if let out in the air is the major cause of global warming. We have to ask ourselves, how can we make this sustainable?  

This effect can be largely reduced by giving impetus to local production. It is especially important to take steps where a large amount of population resides and also where large tourism activities are expected.

Pinal Desai

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