A noted Indian academic, food critic and historian, Pushpesh Pant is a retired Professor of International relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. He is one of India's leading experts on International Relations as well as Indian cuisine. His book, India: The Cookbook (2011) was named by The New York Times as one of the best cookbooks of the year. The Government of India awarded him the Padma Shri in 2016. “There is an urgent need to document the dishes of the Indian continent before they disappear forever,” says Dr. Pant who believes that there is already so much that we have forgotten. Even the diversity of ingredients is slowly disappearing as people move away from an agricultural way of life and food is increasingly mass-produced for supermarkets. Here are top points discussed by him at 9th Indian Restaurant Congress regarding sustainability in the food and restaurant business:
Re-Imagining Sustainability: “How long this mirage of sustainability is chased because the basic premise of sustainability is that you do not consume enough in this generation so that the next generation has enough to consume,” adds the professor who believes that I countries like India is very nice to expand elsewhere and do international chains but somewhere we have to pause, see what’s happening and re-examine the concept of hospitality as in business and hospitality at all three levels- the producers, servers and the consumers each three of them will have to act socially responsible.
Looking at Environment: Whenever somebody is eating at a restaurant he needs to be socially aware about the source of ingredients and from where are these ingredients coming, is the plate kept at certain temperature, is he being given cotton napkin instead of paper napkin. And, all those things ultimately have a cost, environmental effect wherein sustainability is concerned.
How Important is Portion: We have noticed that whenever we offer somebody a glass of water, hardly anyone finishes the water. Hence, we need to be very particular about the waste and the portion beings served to an individual. Same applies on the portion size of the menu being kept on a plate or served to a guest. Hence, portion needs to be served very carefully so as to cut the wastage being made at the restaurants and at home.
Looking at Disposability: Keeping a track on disposability is very important part of sustainability program. From where do the plates get disposed, where does your food waste get disposed and what has happened to your left over foods are some of the important aspect of thinking sustainability? Only if, these are understood we can save something for our future generation.