So far the food-related priorities have been focused on self-sufficiency in cereal production and combating food adulteration. The first is a production issue, and the second a matter of governance. In terms of autarky and getting the food basket fuller with new edibles, the success has been remarkable. As regards tackling adulteration -- of a wide spectrum of foods, even medicines -- the standardisation, inspection and law enforcement failures have stewed in the juice of profiteering lacing a sellers' market and weak consumer resistance. Unclean kitchen markets, littered rotting vegetables and unhygienic food processing centres are optic and sanitary sore points. So long less prioritised, they are just beginning to be recognised in research papers.
Beyond food self-sufficiency, victual toxicity and wasteful storage, deeper thoughts are being given to healthy diet. There are institutional, systemic, attitudinal, habit-forming issues associated with affordability of and access to healthy foods. Sophisticated differences between food and diet, both conceptually and consumption-wise, are occurring based on normative values. Food we eat almost by reflex and instinctively but diet is a normative concept people of all ages and economic standing are called upon to adapt to as a matter of healthy life-style. So, what constitutes good, healthy food synonymous with safe and life-sustaining diets have changed over time. All that is at macro level by way of setting, hopefully not imposing, some well-researched and documented universal templates. For instance, experts have come to lay stress on strong and coordinated governance of land and oceans to ensure sustainable use of natural endowments like the land and water. Even they strongly recommend imposing penalty taxes on unhealthy diets and subsidies on healthy foods. Implementation of these templates require, among other things, commitments, dedicated workforce, basic infrastructure at the national level. Taking to safe diet with a shift in habit must begin at home; educational curricula dinning the right messages into the ears of the children through their adolescence would help reinforce the transformative process of which the transitional phase happens to be the most vital one.
Let the attention be now focused on the country level. Here one comes across the brass tacks. FAO, Bangladesh's senior nutritionist Lalita Bhattacharjee informs that in Bangladesh, the contribution of carbohydrates is 17 per cent, followed by poor quality protein, micronutrients at 60 per cent and vegetable at 50 per cent. With milk consumption at one-fourth (of the requirement), the nutritional status is direly compromised. Actually, the abundance of food grains has not been an unalloyed blessing. For, dietary diversity is low with high concentration on rice. As if that was not enough of a dietary imbalance, high-sugar, high-salt foods and fats do not only cause obesity but also induce other life-long diseases. Likewise, consumption of processed food is an antonym for healthy diet as it is full of artificial preservatives. So areas can be clearly delineated to work on and bring about the desired salubrious turn-around in daily diets of the people.
Simultaneous with the course of action as suggested above, the authorities need to enforce a thrust on strict enforcement of laws in order to ensure safe food. There is a raft of them to be used: Safe Food Act, 2013, Consumers' Right Protection Act, 2009, and Fish Feed and Animal Feed Acts, 2010. If supply of pure and safe foods is to be ensured to the common people, there is no alternative to a scrupulous enforcement of such laws.
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