Need for a health-conscious lifestyle as consumerism drastically changes our traditional food habits


Consumerism designs our life beyond the conscious choices nourished by our habits and immediate environment. Food habits have drastically changed in the last two decades as the market leaders of consumerism dismantle traditional food items with or without the knowledge of the consumers, who may have opted for something totally unique or distinct from what they have ultimately preferred to have in a day.
The question of choice is in the conscious realm whereas the subconscious realm of a consumer is crowded with the innumerable social media ad campaigns or media ads leading to a complete transformation of food habits. For example, one may choose to buy instant mix instead of sampar/ rasam powder from the supermarkets/online retailers. Independent thinking is hijacked by the emotional marketing campaigns wherein the idea of choice vanishes with the populist framework of majoritarianism.
Intellectual interpretations may not be easy when your visuals make you believe something irrational or imaginary with attractive offers and gifts (for the target group of consumers). Most of the young consumers prefer to try out something new from the traditional food items, which could have led to new opportunities for the large companies and small-scale sectors to thrive in this area. India is the second largest food producer next only to China in the world. The food processing technologies and the consumer demand for varieties of food are increasing every day. It is obvious to see the quick surge in the consumption of fruit juice, juice based carbonated drink, probiotic drink, soft drinks and other beverages across the country. Our ancestors used probiotic natural drinks without much of chemicals or colouring agents. Most of those drinks were quite fresh and such probiotic drinks are slowly waning out from our daily use. Are we really health conscious while changing our preferences to drink any sort of carbonated drinks? Are we aware of the side-effects of these colouring agents and preservatives used and kept in plastic containers or bottles for a few months? Food has life and its life energy besides its natural taste may get drained if it is packed with preservatives and usually stored in refrigerators.
Food poisoning is the biggest problem for all of us. We may have gone to hospitals several times in a year if we are regularly consuming the food items from eateries or other food vendors while on a trip for work. Do we have any scientific way to monitor food poisoning in our society? Food poisoning occurs when there is poor hygiene in food processing units and eateries. Food vendors in the airports, railway stations and bus stations must be audited regularly with the help of intelligence inputs from various sources. According to World Health Organization, food borne diseases cause 120,000 deaths every year in our society. Can we do anything about it to prevent such deaths? Advertisements occupy our mindscape without any iota of doubt. The cultural matrix of ad films or social media ads and their massive invasion into our consumerist reasoning could be evident as the subconscious mind conditions our preferences over our conscious awareness. It is absolutely true to think about how our consumerist market dwells upon creating artificial needs by replacing organic food consumption with incessant offers and glamorous emotional advertisement campaigns.
Food is medicine in our culture. Now, most of us would ironically accept that at least to a certain extent, some medicines have become an inevitable part of our everyday consumption for a considerable section of our society. There seems to be mindless profit making at the core of all that we tend to endorse or adopt by altering our life style for a few market leviathans, who monopolize our paradigms of reasoning with innovative tools of social media campaigns or through sinister designs of attractive packaging. Why do we allow such profit-making ventures stifling the healthy lifestyle of our population? Do we have any vital agencies to monitor such rampant commercialization processes diminishing the concept of social welfare?
Idiosyncrasies of our lifestyle are absolutely wedded to the cultural ambivalence, which is being promoted continuously without any scope for consumer welfare. Life changes continuously but the continuum of life is conditioned by the consumer market economy endangering the very existence of socialist or welfarist framework of reasoning in the domain of our policy making or implementation. Do we allow our younger generation to think about these postmodern conundrums in life?
Some of our smarties in politics might ironically want our youngsters to be playing online rummy in the name of skill building or talent enrichment rather than gambling. Poor game addicts could end up becoming dummies without any contemplation over what they consume from the hyper-real ennui on day to day basis. Most of these geeks might never think of what they consume as the thrill of the gaming never ends so easily. Most of us never have diet charts and seem to ignore our unique food habits.
Our tradition demands us to eat before the sunset or as early as possible in the evening. Our lifestyle is caught up with long working hours at night wherein we seem to be happy eating junk food quite late at night. We never mind the insulin secretion process and then possibly end up with poor metabolism. Some of us are health conscious but we do not attempt to make any consumer campaign for food safety. Food consumption is conditioned by what we perceive as healthy food by watching media ads and social media campaigns in this era of globalization. The consumerist culture depletes the distinction between the augmented reality and the authentic reality. We rely on our belief system programmed by our visual culture rather than our critical analysis done on the mindless promotion of visual ads. Our food habits ought to be carefully mentored and scientifically enriched by our ancient wisdom and modern dietetics.
Mangalaprathaban Muralidharan is a corporate trainer, course developer and curriculum consultant.