Future of food is a documentary that delves into the mass production of food that has given rise to patented, genetically engineered crops. These companies, in their quest for high yields, have killed zillions of varieties of indigenous crops. I first go to know about the loss of bio-diversity when I watched this news item on a seed bank in Norway; did you know that till the mid-1800s there were over 3000 varieties of apples and now all that are left are a few hundred varieties?
This documentary raises some very pertinent questions, especially on how the crops (and seeds) are managed. Typically, farmers save a few good quality seeds from their harvest to use for the next season. Now, there are big corporations like Monsanto entering the foray and enticing the farmers with higher yields by using their seeds. After the harvest, the farmers cannot re-use the seeds as the plants are genetically modified such that the seeds do not give raise to saplings. This makes the farmers dependent on these big corporations for seeds every year and this eventually kills locally grown crops. Farmers are realizing (and understanding) the ill-effects of using these seeds now which has led to them modifying their approach.
Now, what can we do as consumers? A lot, actually. As a first step, we should promote crops (vegetables, fruits etc) that are grown in a sustainable way instead of buying them from the supermarket. You can visit your local Farmer’s markets or shops that actively promote and buy crops from local farmers who do sustainable farming. This actually has 2-fold benefit (atleast) – firstly you are promoting the local indigenous plants and helping them survive (environmental benefit); secondly with time fruits tend to lose a lot of its nutritive value – there is no way to know when the fruits where picked when you buy it from a supermarket while that is not true when you buy from your local farmer’s market or CSA (personal health benefit). Finally, what can compare with the pleasure of eating freshly picked seasonal fruits and vegetables! I personally enjoy waiting for summer which marks the onset of the arrival of cherries, strawberries, the fall for the melons, the spring for the different varieties of greens.
Shameless Plug: Watch this documentary here.