The report “Health Per Acre” by Navdanya International presents a comprehensive analysis of the impact of different farming practices on the nutritional output and overall health implications of the food produced. The report challenges the conventional focus on yield per acre, proposing instead a focus on health per acre. This shift in perspective allows for a more holistic understanding of the food we consume and its impact on our health and the environment.
What is Health?
The report begins by exploring the concept of health, which it defines as a combination of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. This Health Triangle can be expanded into a Health Quadrilateral with the addition of a spiritual component. The report emphasizes the importance of social wellbeing in achieving good health, alongside a disease-free body and mind.
The report also highlights the legal perspective of health, citing the Constitution of India, which mandates the improvement of public health and the raising of nutrition and living standards as primary duties of the state.
The Food Dilemma
The report discusses the dilemma of modern food consumption, questioning whether the scientifically modified, fashionable food that is becoming increasingly popular is truly beneficial for our health. It suggests that lifestyle-related diseases could also be referred to as “food style-related diseases,” indicating a strong link between our dietary choices and our health.
Nutrition Per Acre
The report challenges the proponents of conventional chemical agriculture who boast of the high yields achieved through this farming practice. It argues that yield measurements, which focus on monoculture outputs, fail to provide a comprehensive picture of the diverse outputs of a farming system. More importantly, yield measurements do not provide information about the nutritional value of the food produced.
To address this, the report introduces the concept of “nutrition per acre,” which measures the nutritional output of a farming system rather than just the quantity of food produced. This approach allows for a more accurate assessment of the health benefits of the food we consume.
The report presents several case studies conducted at Navdanya farms, comparing the nutritional output of mixed cropping versus mono cropping. The studies found that mixed cropping, a practice common in organic farming, often resulted in a higher production of macronutrients per acre compared to mono cropping.
Organic vs Conventional Farming
The report addresses the global debate on whether organic or conventional food is better for consumption. While it acknowledges that further research is needed to definitively answer this question, it presents compelling evidence in favor of organically grown food.
The report cites various studies that found organically grown produce to be of higher quality than conventionally grown produce, with respect to parameters that relate to health and taste. It also discusses the environmental risks associated with conventional farming, such as genetic erosion and reduced agrobiodiversity.
The “Health Per Acre” report by Navdanya International presents a compelling argument for a shift in focus from yield per acre to health per acre. It emphasizes the importance of considering the nutritional output and health implications of the food we consume, alongside the environmental impact of the farming practices used to produce it. The report suggests that organic farming, with its focus on mixed cropping and biodiversity, may offer a more sustainable and health-promoting solution to our global food needs.