A few things I learned about food and sustainability
Every time I speak or listen to Shashi from Akshayakalpa, I learn something new about food, health, and sustainability. A few things I learned recently:
- Antibiotic resistance is a global health threat.
Due to overuse, germs have become resistant to antibiotics, leading to health complications and deaths. The non-obvious way in which we ingest antibiotics is through dairy and meat. For example, cows that are always tied down tend to catch diseases quickly, and the use of antibiotics becomes necessary to treat them. If a cow is treated with antibiotics, 40% of it shows up in the milk.
- Death of bees
Bees are excellent pollinators, and beekeeping on AK farms has considerably increased coconut yields. Unfortunately, most bee colonies die due to the use of pesticides, habitat loss, and parasites.
- Loss of organic carbon
Organic carbon in soil has dropped to an alarming low of 1%. It needs to be much higher for sustainable farming. The lower the organic carbon content, the lower the fertility of the soil, and the lower the nutrition profile of the produce. An orange from 50 years ago had a much better nutrition profile than today’s. For example, one orange from then is better than three oranges today.
One way to increase the organic carbon in the soil is to move to more sustainable practices when farming, i.e., organic farming. But today, subsidies on fertilizers and seeds make organic more expensive. Also, consumer support doesn’t exist; maybe if consumers cared about the nutrition profile of what we consume, there would be more demand for organic, and at scale, the price could also drop. AK farms are at 3.6%, took 13 years.
We have to change this trend. Maybe it will if younger and more educated folks take up farming and such conversations become mainstream. Farmers definitely need to be able to keep higher margins on their produce and need easy access to credit. AK is trying to solve some of these issues.