World Food Day is commemorated on 16 October around the world. It is a day dedicated to tackling worldwide hunger. It was first launched in 1945 to celebrate the launch of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
This year, World Food Day calls for action to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone. At the same time, it calls on everyone to start thinking about what we eat.
In recent decades, we have changed our diets and have moved from seasonal, mainly plant-based and fibre-rich dishes to diets that are high in refined starches, sugar, fats, salt, processed foods, meat and other animal-source products. Less time is spent preparing meals at home and consumers, especially in urban areas, increasingly rely on ready-made meals and take-aways.
A combination of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles has sent obesity rates soaring, not only in developed countries, but also low-income countries, where hunger and obesity often coexist. Now over 670 million adults and 120 million girls and boys (5-19 years) are obese and over 40 million children under 5 are overweight, while over 820 million people suffer from hunger.
A healthy diet is one that meets the nutritional needs of individuals by providing sufficient, safe, nutritious and diverse foods to lead an active life and reduce the risk of disease. It includes fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains and foods that are low in fats, sugar and salt.
AGT Food and Ingredients is one of the largest suppliers of value-added pulses, staple foods and food ingredients in the world. Pulses have been recognised by the United Nations for their substantial contribution to health and nutrition and for their role in improving environmental sustainability of farming practices. Pulses include dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Pulses are amazing superfoods as they feed more people, use less water and fertilizer than other protein sources, they improve soil health, they have a low carbon footprint and are resilient in the face of climate change.
We need to feed 9 billion people by 2050. We can only do that sustainably by eating pulses. That is because pulses are an excellent source of nutrition and a powerful superfood. Just one cup can provide you with 250 calories, 23 percent protein, 1 percent fat and very high fibre, vitamins and minerals like potassium, folate and iron. They are naturally low in fat and are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Pulses reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes as well as certain cancers.
Pulses are also considerably cheaper to eat than any other protein, in fact R100 cheaper per kilo than meat. More and more countries are starting to change their dietary guidelines to include more pulses and reduce meat and dairy consumption.
Here is a perfect recipe from AGT Foods to celebrate World Food Day.
Lentil and potato curry
1 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
2cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
6 tbsp fresh coriander, leaves and finely chopped stalks
200g chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
600ml vegetable stock
900g potatoes, peeled and cubed
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, ginger, chilli powder, coriander, turmeric and fresh coriander and continue to fry for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, carrot and lentils to the pan and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender.
Stir in the potatoes and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes until tender. Enjoy!