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Tasting India Symposium Setting a sustainable food agenda for India

From adopting a ‘Smart food’ manifesto for India to generate and drive a sustainable food culture for the country to proposing a mechanism to integrate the food donation to eradicate hunger from the society, the second Tasting India Symposium that held in Delhi between December 13 and 17 had put forward many novel initiatives that the food industry stakeholders can brainstorm and adopt to become responsible and sustainable. A report by Hospitality Biz

Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 15:15 Hrs  [IST]

The second annual Tasting India Symposium had a very ‘healthy’ agenda for the food industry in the country. The 5-day long event that held in the Delhi NCR at different venues was more engaging with visits to organic farms, cooking sessions, knowledge sessions, and above all some pathbreaking initiatives which could transform how the food is understood, consumed and shared with the needy. And, in all these new initiatives, Tasting India Symposium organisers have been able to enlist the support of the country’s food regulator, Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Partnering with Tasting India Symposium, FSSAI announced the launch of India Food Sharing Alliance (IFSA), an initiative to combine the fragmented individual and institutional efforts of retrieving, collecting and donating food to the needy and impoverished through an online platform. Intended at reducing the food wastage, the initiative will be soon piloted in Delhi by FSSAI.

Introducing the concept of IFSA, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, said that “interventions are required at various levels” to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. “Our endeavour is to build an eco-system of food donors, recovery agencies, etc. and integrate all the efforts,” he said. In order to make the system transparent, the platform will have a “geotagging” provision by which people will be able to know where the food collected is distributed, etc.

TATA Trust will support it by providing necessary equipment to recovery agencies and other civil society agencies engaged in collecting and donating food.

FSSAI will also launch two campaigns to educate and create awareness about food donation. One campaign - Street Food Vendors Have a Heart - will be launched with the support of National Street Vendors Association (NSVI). In the second campaign – I too Have a Heart – FSSAI plans to encourage food businesses to donate 100 packets of food every month to IFSA.

Individuals and agencies which work in food donations presented their model at the Tasting India symposium. These included Feed On, Chintan, Rasoi on Wheels, No Food Waste, Indian Food Banking Network, etc.

Another landmark initiative by Tasting India was adoption of the ‘Indian Food Manifesto’ to create a food ecosystem which is sustainable as well as make India a culinary tourism hub. The Declaration underscores, among other things, the inescapable duty of the tourism industry and food production sectors to contribute their mite to the growing international movement for sustainable planet friendly practices as enunciated in the UN sustainable development goals.

Designed in the lines of Nordic Food Manifesto which catapulted Nordic countries into the world culinary map, Indian Food Manifesto envisions to fuel the aspiration for a sustainable food ecosystem in the country. “Nordic Food Manifesto was released in 2004. Then famous restaurants like Noma came into being and new Nordic cuisines became a big magnet for culinary tourism in Copenhagen. We want, with the support of the industry partners here, to create a movement in India so that 100s of indigenous Noma’s are set up to showcase our local cuisine and attract travellers from across the globe,” stated Sanjoo Malhotra, the brain behind Tasting India Symposium.

Participating in a discussion on the Indian Food Manifesto, Gautam S Bhattacharyya, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden said that the New Nordic Manifesto has changed the way people source, cook and eat food in Sweden. While a theoretical approach won’t work in the Indian context, he advised to pilot it in smaller states like Sikkim or Kerala to start with.

While endorsing the Indian Food Manifesto, FSSAI CEO, Agarwal expressed the agency’s commitment to work in partnership with Tasting India to work for a ‘Hygiene Rating’ for Indian hotels and restaurants in the lines of Michelin star. He said that the agency is in the process of framing a ‘new matrix’ for rating. He also proposed an “Indian Food Day”, preferably January 14, the ‘Makarasankrati Day’, so that Indians across the world can promote Indian cuisines.

Taking part in the deliberations, Samir Kuckreja, renowned consultant said that a Manifesto so comprehensive is difficult to adopt in the Indian scenario. While a number of restaurateurs want to adopt organic food, there is no reliable certification. “People trust what is available in the absence of reliable certification,” he said.

Chef Manjit Gill, President of IFCA said that people in the food business have to consider it their responsibility to feed their diners responsibly. Responsible procurement is key in the business. Indian food by its nature is healthy and sustainable, more than certification it is the trust and belief in Indian farmers is the hallmark of Indian food ethos.

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