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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Towards a common understanding of Sustainable Food Systems

Debarati Chakraborty
Debarati ChakrabortyUniversity of KalyaniIndia

Respected Sir

As mentioned in my earlier comments on 2.2.1, Sustainable Diets being defined as protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable I mentioned about a Bengali ritual of eating 'Choddo sag' (14 greens). It is well known that leafy green vegetables are among nature’s best nutrition supplements Bhoot chaturdashi, celebrated a day before Kali Puja among Bengali is believed to be the day Narakasur (a demon) was killed, according to mythology. It is on this day 14 greens are consumed a list of which along with their scientific names are given below:

14 greens/Choddo sak

1. Waterclover green Marsilea minuta

2. Chick pea/Bengal gram leaves Cicer arietinum

3. Spinach leaves Spinacia oleracea
4. Corchorus sp. young Jute green
5. Calabash green Lagenaria siceraria - lac
6. Squash green Cucurbita sp.

7. Green amaranth Amaranthus viridis

8. Hincha saag /Helencha saag Enhydra fluctuans

9. Fenugreek green Trigonella foenum-graecum

10. Vine spinach Basella alba

11. Oriental radish green Raphanus sativus var. Longipinnatus

12. Black mustard green Brassica nigra

13. Water spinach green Ipomoea aquatica

14. Red amarnath leaves Amaranthus cruentus

Moreover, in another Bengali ritual of Lakshmi Puja, it is a must to have a khichdi (an Indian dish made with rice and lentils) to use particularly Gobindobhog, an aromatic rice landrace. In winter, it is common to celebrate the ritual of Makar Sankranti with aromatic date palm jaggery (Nolan gur) based sweet dishes (Payesh- a type of rice based kheer and pithe- rice cakes). These rituals are few of several examples of innumerable traditional dishes which are not only directly contributing to nutritional benefits but also to the conservation of indigenous landraces (eg. Gobindobhog). The date palm jaggery helps to improve digestion, have high iron, potassium and magnesium content. Thus my suggestion is instead of making the document totally technical even if a few of such innumerable traditional culinary dishes name can be included along with an emphasis towards their health benefits, it will motivate its users to have their very own traditional foods. After all, until and unless we are actually growing and eating our own traditional, local foods we can't contribute directly towards their conservation. Another such example is drumstick tree Moringa oleifera every part of which is used in Indian culinary traditions from ages and now it is well known for its medicinal benefits. We need for such examples from all over the world to understand the concept of Sustainable Diets being rooted to everyone's unique culture and biodiversity.