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‘Indians should move towards consuming foods that are locally produced’ says Food Technology scholar and Apeejay alumna

Jaisal Kaur Sidhu, who studied at Apeejay, Faridabad shares why promoting local varieties of fruits and vegetables is the need of the hour. In an interview, she also helps bust food-based myths

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Coming from a family of engineers, Jaisal is the first in her family to be part of the Food Technology field. She decided to make a career in this sector as a school student. A fitness-enthusiast with immense passion for her line of work, her advice to people is to eat everything but in moderation. Edited excerpts from the interview:

Please tell us about your educational background.

I completed my schooling from Apeejay in Faridabad. Till class 10, I studied at Apeejay Svran Global School, Faridabad Sector 21-D. For class 12, I was part of the Sector-15 branch of Apeejay in Faridabad. After that, I pursued an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in Food and Nutrition from Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi. I have recently completed my examinations in the year 2022.

What would be the next step for you?

I am looking for a job. The profile I am looking at would be either that of a Food Scientist, Quality Assurance or Quality Control professional. I have done a few internships in this field, including one under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

What would your future job entail?

As food scientists, one can be a part of the Research and Development (R&D) team or of the Food Safety vertical. In R&D, a person is required to design new and innovative products for the consumer market. S/he can also work on the nutrition composition of an existing product. As part of Food Safety, one is asked to look into the microbiology of the product, its physiology and where it would be safe for public consumption.

What are some exciting trends in the industry right now?

Currently, Space Food Research is stimulating. Scientists are trying to develop foods that can be stored for a lot of time in Outer Space and can serve the nutritional needs of astronauts. Research is on-going to keep the food fresh in conditions such as zero gravity, high pressure, etc.

The concept of nutraceuticals is upcoming. These are herbal powders or capsules derived from vitamins, minerals, and plants with specific medicinal properties to fight diseases and support resistance against illnesses.

Many countries are promoting the consumption of local foods. In India, I feel that we have several under-utilised varieties of fruits and vegetables that are limited to villages or tribal areas only. These should come to the urban markets. Promoting local produce will be an ideal step to serve the needs of people.

Do you suggest that Indians must focus on produce available in the country?

Yes. There is a field called Nutrigenomics. It is the study of how food affects a person’s genes and how a person’s genes affect the way the body responds to food. Nutrigenomics helps us know more about how genes and diet together may affect a person’s health and risk of developing diseases. In this respect, it is advisable for persons to consume items that are available in their geography to maintain a healthy life.

There is a growing trend about following certain diets to lose weight. Is it advisable?

So, let’s take an example of veganism. It means doing away with any dairy products or meat consumption. A vegan has to have plant-based foods. But, if we look at the kind of food available in India, we are a society dependent on plants for food consumption. However, I would like to add that these kinds of diets are ‘fad diets’ – similar to plans sold as the best and fastest approach to losing weight. These involve eliminating foods that contain necessary nutrients for your body. One often has to make up for the lost nutrients via supplements. Those who wish to follow it, can do it. But, they have to be mindful.

Your tips for those wanting to stay fit?

If you want to lose weight, a calorie deficit diet works the best. It means you consume the calories and then attempt to lose it as well. But in doing so, know your body composition and calculate how much you need to lose. Do a 20-minute exercise every day. Stay fit and active through the day!

Now let’s listen to some of your favourite memories of Apeejay, Faridabad?

My time at Apeejay Svran Global School was very special. I was in class 10 and made many friends there. We still keep in touch. My teachers were extremely supportive and I shared a personal connection with each of them. I love visiting the school and re-connecting with the then Principal, Ms. Purnima Vohra.

For students wanting to start in the field of Food Technology, your advice?

If you are in school, and still wondering what to pick for +2, then go for Science. Simply, because it will help you understand the science behind our bodies and foods. Keep reading about the field and stay updated. Refer to journals and e-magazines. Follow social media handles of World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to get accurate information. Also, do your due diligence and research before applying for a course in any university. Choose the field wisely. 

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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