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Home » A Snack’s Journey From The Farm To Your Mouth: Aruna Rangachar Pohl (Transcript) 

A Snack’s Journey From The Farm To Your Mouth: Aruna Rangachar Pohl (Transcript) 

Here is the full transcript of sustainable development leader Aruna Rangachar Pohl’s talk titled “A Snack’s Journey From The Farm To Your Mouth” at TED 2024 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


You all had some tea? OK. Biscuits, perhaps? OK. So we all love biscuits, right?

Audience: Yes.

The Journey of a Biscuit

So join me now on a story and a journey of India’s — one of the most popular brands of biscuits. Let’s meet Devraj Pai, a small farmer who grows wheat on his one-hectare farm in arid Gujarat. This wheat is harvested and trucked 42 kilometers to a government marketplace, and there it is bought by a trader, who then sells it on 100 kilometers further to a commercial flour mill.

At the mill, it is stripped of all of its nutrients and fiber and then converted to refined flour. And then it is trucked another 400 kilometers further to a larger factory to be mixed with refined sugar, which has had a similar long journey. All of this is mixed with chemical preservatives, artificial flavors, and then baked into biscuits using energy-guzzling machines and then trucked 500 kilometers back to the same villages.

Now consider this. Devraj Pai sold his wheat for 22 rupees a kilo, and then he buys this stripped-down, sugary unhealthy biscuits for his family at 120 rupees a kilo, almost five times more. This is just the tip of the math iceberg.

Underneath lies the hidden world of margins at multiple points, fuel costs, infrastructure costs and another painful, unaccounted, hidden cost. The cost to nature. All this in the guise of modern efficiency and scale?

What the f– truck are we not seeing here?

The Bigger Picture

This is a tiny example of the highly polluting industrial farming model that is eating the world. Let’s zoom out and view this. No escaping it.

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