food and forest

5 forest foods that can help solve global hunger crisis

India ranks 102 in a list of 117 nations, with only 9.6% of its children in the age group of 6 to 24 months receiving a minimum acceptable diet

With one in nine people still suffering from hunger, it is a mammoth global crisis that will only worsen as the population on our planet grows. The lack of access to food is most acute in Africa and Asia. On the home turf, we have been grappling with the hunger crisis and malnutrition ever since independence.

In the past seven decades, different governments have tried to tackle the issue but with little success. In fact, recent Hunger Index statistics paint a rather grim picture – India ranks 102 in a list of 117 nations, with only 9.6% of its children in the age group of 6 to 24 months receiving a minimum acceptable diet. It seems like decades of progress made in eliminating hunger has come undone.

In the wake of the mounting fears of this crisis, Dr. Bhaskar Vira of Cambridge University has offered forest foods as the answer to ensure global food security. Ironically, India is a gold mine to some of the richest forest foods that can substitute farmed produce without comprising on nutrition.

Here are 5 forest foods from India that can contribute toward solving this hunger crisis:

Mango

This juicy fruit is a rich source of Vitamin C, folate, calcium, and dietary fibre and its trees are resilient to the most erratic weather conditions and can be found growing naturally in the forests.

Custard Apple

Another native fruit that grows in our tropical forests, Custard apple is not only rich in Vitamin A and C, but also contains elements that protect the heart and regulate blood pressure.

Tamarind

Tamarind is extensively used in Indian cooking. The pulp of tamarind is rich in many essential nutrients that can supplement the body’s dietary requirements. It’s also a resilient plant that can grow and hold its own even in the most hostile conditions.

Honey

With beehives so rampant in the forests, honey can be easily harnessed. It is one of most nutrition-dense foods known to mankind, with a rich concentration of enzymes, minerals, and amino acids.

Tubers

Be it sweet potato, taro, yams, elephant foot yams, tapioca or other regional varieties, the Tubers are an integral part of the traditional scheme of food in India and all of these can be easily accessed from the forest without the need for any dedicated cultivation or farming.

Final Thoughts

Many indigenous communities in different parts of our country already rely on the produce of the forests to meet their daily food needs. For instance, the Kondh community in Odisha sources all its food, except for staples like millet and rice, from the forest. People in the hill states of Himachal and Uttarakhand have been practising root-to-stem eating for generations. All that needs to be done is to take inspiration from our native food habits and replicate those patterns on a national scale.