Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why we need 'Disruptive Eating'

I met one college friend recently almost after 8 years. We touched base on the family, the college days and what we are doing now. Naturally now-a-days, I talk a lot about ‘disruptive eating’ and how each of us can make a global impact through such mundane act of eating. He listened to me for 10 minutes. Then he stopped me and asked me a question?

What does the plants eat? I replied ~ Carbon Dioxide and the plants exhale oxygen.
What we inhale? I replied ~ Oxygen and exhale the carbon dioxide.
So if we go on reducing the carbon, what the plants would eat? Basically we are reducing the food supply for the plants. Specially he was very unhappy with the government interference in imposing the carbon cut.
I was kind of stumped. Like we went to the same school here. I knew his political leaning but never imagined the degree to which this debate has degraded here in the US.
I did mumble through my response that his concern is not true. I asked him, how much meat he eats in a day? He said, may be a pound. I asked, assume if he gets 3 pounds of meat every day, what he would do? He said, I can’t overeat, this is not good for my health. I would throw it away.
So I said similarly the plants can’t overeat, and they need to throw away the carbon dioxide, where, to our atmosphere. That is what is causing the global warming. But he was not convinced.
So during the same week, I mentioned this encounter to my family. My high-school going daughter was kind of alarmed. She asked me, what was the world population in 1800? She is studying now in her history class about the industrial revolution around 1850 or so. And there were no motor vehicles either that time. I saw where she is coming from. In 1800, there was almost no pollution (extraneous carbon), less human and more trees. Why the less trees now need the carbon dioxide from the outside?
It set me out on some research trail. In 1800, there were approx. 900 million people in the world. Today the world forest cover is 4 Billion hectare. The annual net loss of the world forest coverage is 5.2 million hectare now. This net loss has reduced considerably in the last 10 years. 1 hectare can hold 1000-2500 trees depending on the size, separation etc. The world population now is around 7 Billion and by one estimate there are around 600 to 700 Billion trees now. Whatever way you extrapolate or interpolate, in 1800, there could be 1.5 trillion trees or more.
I wish I could have shared this data with my friend to authenticate my ‘overeating’ logic. But the real problem is 40% of population here shut them off from any debate about the climate change. Today we have a report from NASA on CNN and I am sure the naysayers won’t click the link ~ . No surprise when some republican governors are not ready to utter the CC (climate change) thing.
This debate with my friend put us into the urgency mode and we launched our campaign for ‘disruptive eating’ on the social media on the Mothers’ Day on 10th May 2015. I believe ‘Nirmal for disruptive eating’ can take this message to all and sundry more effectively. How?
Let me disseminate the disruptive eating. Ours is a comprehensive approach to tackle the social inequality and the climate change.
·         The social inequality has 3 components. The health inequality holds the key to overcome the income and educational inequality, the other 2 components.
·         The first step to achieve the health equality is to know your BMI (body mass index), the first stage of the ‘disruptive eating.’ 74% of the population in the US are overweight or obese, majority from the low income populace. Once you know BMI, even subconsciously you start to take care of eating.

·         At Nirmal, from our logo to the toll-free phone no of 844-KNOW-BMI to the poster at the entrance, you can’t miss the message.

·         At the second stage of ‘disruptive eating’, our message is you don’t need meat for protein and there are so many options in Indian cuisine from the lentils to soya chunks to spinach to chickpeas. Incidentally Canada is the largest producer of the lentils.

·         Indian food is curry based and this plays a role in having 500 million vegetarians in India, almost 42% of the population. The curry contains plethora of beneficial spices and the base sauce. With the chicken or soya chunks, the curry dominates your taste buds.

·         If the 100 million people in the US skips meat once a week, there could be saving of 3.6 Billion pound of meat. The meat consumption alone accounts for 21% of the greenhouse gases, the main culprit for the global warming.

·         The global food security is tied to reduced meat consumption as well as the food wastage all around us. We discarded the buffet and put a unique 1-page menu to reduce the food wastage. We are the first Indian restaurant to introduce 8 Oz entrees.

Please read the link ~

·         We stopped using the Tandoor oven due to the higher energy consumption (used in 95% of Indian restaurants in the US) and discarded the naan (white flour bread) made in Tandoor oven. We give our patrons just one option, the whole wheat bread. Our poster blares~ Eat Healthy, Save Energy, Save our planet.

·         For the non-vegetarians, our message is ‘Eat Goat.’ Goat is healthier than even chicken and Goat is far better substitute for beef and pork in the long term. ‘Nirmal’ may be the only restaurant serving goat meat in Michigan. Goat meat consumption can reduce the greenhouse gases due to reduction in the pastures and grains needed for beef and pork.

·        Goat could be reared anywhere from the Himalayas to the sub-Saharan Africa. The popularity of the goat meat could impact the global economy in big way. It is called poor man’s cow and may provide the milk and the source of income to the poor.

·        At the third stage of ‘disruptive eating’, we aim to make Indian food affordable. We replaced the buffet with $5 Food box (5 items). This avoids the food wastage as well as the overeating, a constant complaint of our patrons for the buffet. 95% of Indian restaurants do buffet here in the US and only 2% in India.

·         We promote the ‘home cooking’ by sharing various recipes through the social media. The mothers, the bedrock of any family, have all important role to play here and the home cooking can bring the price of lunch or dinner by half. We plan to launch the free cooking classes at Nirmal during the summer.

·         The low income people are still stuck in the burgers, pizzas or tacos. We want them to make switch to the lentils, the whole wheat bread (roti) and the Basmati rice, all foods with low glycemic index and covers the protein and dietary fiber requirements. The low glycemic index foods play a role in the weight loss or control.

·         At the fourth stage, at Nirmal, our patrons get a sense of gratification. They use the bio-degradable products, they can skip the meat and/or can eat goat meat. In all respects, they contribute towards the reduction of the greenhouse gases.

·        We believe that the physical health is tied to the mental and spiritual health. Hence we share ‘Gita’ and ‘Yoga’ with our patrons, the 2 pillars of Indian spirituality. We want to expose the patrons to Indian culture along with Indian food. 

The restaurants have very high visibility in the US as the majority eat outside. We believe we can convey our message unobtrusively through Nirmal specially to the young generation. Imagine 500+ Nirmals all across the US. Once more and more people get the message and get convinced, the politicians would follow the suit.

We are actively looking for the like-minded people and the organizations to take this concept further by expanding the Nirmal franchise as well as publishing the book and video game or app on the 'disruptive eating.'

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