50 years of Indian food! How well the country changed?


Change is the only constant, not only in lifestyle but also in eating habits. Through years India have never remained stuck at one point and so is the Indian food. We have grown from a complete agricultural society to a more sustainable one. So just like we shifted economically, Indian’s eating habits too gained a gradual change over the past 50 years. According to a report by FAOSTAT, it indicates that the nation is consuming more food than the past and Indian’s are living longer than ever before. What brought such change in a highly undernourished country- India?

Why Indian Food got changed? Let’s check it out!

Indian population has surged in past 5 decades. The decadal population growth rate during 1981-91, was nearly 24 percent and the annual average growth rate was 2.1 per cent. Our population increased by 40 people per minute or nearly 1.25 crore per year. And after few years, every three months India produced one Israel and we are growing ever since. This is a tremendous growth rate! Along with population, Indian are also living a longer life. When back in 1970’s the average life expectancy was about 45 years, today it has raised to 62 years. But this doesn’t specify that Indian’s live a healthy life. Do you know that globally, 8% of diabetes patients are here in India? The eating patterns of the country has changed so far so good, so far so bad.

So how we changed? When traced back in 1960’s, pesticide usage wasn’t there. So everything on the plate was organic. The calorie intake was also just 2,010, fat was not a priority and exercise was the trend! Health care has seemingly grown post-independence with several new hospitals gaining recognition and new doctors in the line. However the healthcare did the best- but not the health in upcoming years. An average individual took 65% of grains, 17% of sugar, 5% dairy and eggs and 7% of other stuffs. So it can be easily estimated that though people lived shorter, they lived healthier.

Within the few years the country faced the biggest food crises with increasing famines and droughts. Millions of people died due to famines in India in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Over this century and a half period, India experienced seven major drought periods – 1876–1882, 1895–1900, 1908–1924, 1937–1945, 1982–1990, 1997–2004, and 2011–2015, according to Advancing Earth and Space Science. So to overcome this, India experienced green revolution. Indian agriculture was converted into an industrial system due to the adoption of modern methods and technology. Then we witnessed white revolution, which refers to the time when dairy industry jumped to double dairy production. This is how we managed to overcome the challenge of acute famine.

What is happening now?

An average an individual’s indian food intake is almost 2,458 of calories. In an overall diet they take 57% grains, 19% fats, 7% produce, 8% dairy and eggs and 8% of other stuffs. However the meat consumption has remained constant since last 5 decades that’s only 1%. How this happened? Well with the introduction of western go away foods in the country like burgers, pizza’s and momo’s, the fat intake has more than doubled. Now we don’t have varieties of food on our plate instead we have varieties of pesticides! Factors such as income, food prices, individual preferences, traditions, as well as geographical, environmental, social and economic factors have all influenced changes in diet on an individual. The growing generation today doesn’t prefer eating green vegetables instead join the que in Mcdonalds and Domino’s! Thus bumping fat intake. Back then sitting together and eating was a trend in India. Families unite at dinner and lunch, unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore. Due to the shift in this pattern people can’t check what they are children are actually eating. Before people use to reuse food and food wastage was not a matter of debate. Sadly, today we are at the urge of another massive food crises.

Since 1960’s, over 30 new infectious agents have been detected in the country. Though people live longer than before they are stuck with dozens of diseases in their later years, which means that even if we live longer we do not live healthy. Diabetes, heart diseases, kidney problems, lung infections are all certainly on the rise! It can’t be predicted that we’ll get hit by another famine but certainly with hundred outbreaks of disease epidemic.

Many would argue that Indian food are healthy but we won’t agree to that. Of course our food was the healthiest years back but with the advent of chemicalization, that can’t be said anymore. There’s an urgent need, first to change our farming styles and second our consuming patterns. Today healthy food is a luxury which many cannot afford. So we have to make sure that whatever we grow is authentic enough to the health index. People should be aware where there food is coming from and what they are eating is good for them or not. Unless and until we change what we eat, we cannot argue about alarming health issues in the country. Though today the country has achieved amazing heights, our health still remains on the darker end.


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