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close this bookInterfaces between Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Science (UNU, 1984, 406 pages)
close this folderSession 4-A: Achieving better nutrition
close this folderDiscussion
View the documentThe food mix
View the documentFats in the diet

The food mix

The relatively smaller increase over the last 25 years in the price of fine cereals like rice and wheat, compared to those both of coarse cereals like jowar and bajra and of pulses, has adversely affected the nutrition of the poor. Even at a 1,500-calorie-per-day level, the data show a willingness to buy more costly foods, and at 1,800 calories, a shift to purchase non-food items is noticeable. Thus simply the provision of a larger income may not bring about better nutrition, and one may have to consider other measures to correct this tendency, either through the agency of the ration system or by payment of wages in kind.

In drawing up health cards for use in the CARE project in Kerala, red has been shown as the zone of danger. Yet in the Poshak study in Madhya Pradesh, red was perceived by local mothers as a sign of health and well-being.

Fats in the diet

What would be the critical minimum requirement of external fat? In practice the answer was probably nil, since invisible fat in Indian cereal diets is substantial and, fortunately, high in essential fatty acids as well. Indeed many people, perhaps a third of the Indian population, eat no external fat at all. Consumption of just 400 grams of any Indian cereal alone would furnish at least 10 grams of latent fat.

Of course addition of fat would raise the calorie density of children's foods, but the cost of this world be high. The soybean is important in agriculture. especially in Madhya Pradesh, but has little role as a food that would help the poor as it cannot be consumed directly. On the other hand, when processed the oil would of course find use, but the protein cake must necessarily be incorporated into processed foods, which then go out of reach of the needy.