Millets need a comeback for a more sustainable Indian diet: Revival of sustainable agriculture

Article and Image Courtesy : Triple Pundit

Author : Akhila Vijayaraghavan

India is still the largest producer of millets – there are about eight different kinds of millet varieties that are still grown and still consumed

India is still the largest producer of millets – there are about eight different kinds of millet varieties that are still grown and still consumed

Dietary choices do have planetary impact and this is not something that can be associated only with eating meat. The system of monoculture in agriculture is also cause for concern. In the US it is corn, soybean and to an extent wheat; in India it is wheat and rice.

According to Dr. Vandana Shiva, humans evolved by eating about 8,500 species of plants and today we eat about 300. Among these, various kinds of grains formed a large part of our diet. In India, millets have formed the core of the everyday diet for millenia. However after the Green Revolution, subsidies for wheat and rice, and the food distribution system millets are slowly dying out.

The Green Revolution did serve its purpose – it ensured self-sufficiency in food, reduced hunger, and introduced hybrids into Indian agriculture but as a bargain Indian diet lost its nutritional diversity.  India is still the largest producer of millets – there are about eight different kinds of millet varieties that are still grown and still consumed but not to the extent that they were previously. These include Kodo Millet, Foxtail Millet, Little Millet, Proso Millet, Barnyard Millet, Sorghum, Pearl Millet, and Finger Millet. Of these the last three are more widely consumed.

Millets are a storehouse of nutrients. They have much higher contents of calcium, iron, phosphorus etc than rice or wheat. They are also higher in fibre, lower in fat and gluten-free. They make an ideal source of nutrition for diabetics due to their low glycemic index. With the advent of sedentary lifestyles with diets rich in simple carbohydrates like rice and a genetic predisposition, India has become the diabetic capital of the world with one in four Indians having diabetes.

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