Are we on the right diet? And even if we maintain a proper diet, is the food that we consume daily healthy and natural? We decided to visit the Organic Farmer’s Market to seek answers to many such questions that we often ask but seldom pay heed to it.
The Organic Farmer’s Market that we visited last Saturday was an eye-opener in many ways than one. The Farmer’s Market was not only held with the prime objective of promoting natural and good food, but it also took a dig at the kind of lifestyle that we lead today and have adapted ourselves to. To prove this outright, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that was also the organizer of this show unveiled a research study that points out to various contaminants and unwanted substances in the food that we have every day.
A strong advocate of ‘good food’, CSE has also published its book, First Food a few years back that celebrated the diversity of good food and recipes from across the country. By good food, CSE means those food that is good for nature (rich in biodiversity), nutrition (not junk food and without poisons) and livelihoods (where local people derive benefits). The Organic Farmers’ Market is rightly seen as an extension of the book it had published, and that which CSE is optimistic of striking the right chord with its visitors.
The Director General of CSE, Sunita Narain increasingly emphasized on the need to have good food. “The presence of antibiotics or pesticides in our food is a common thing these days. And the consequences of having such contaminated food can be alarming as it will have an ill-effect on our health.” She also made a very interesting comparison between the food habits of the two strata of the society – the rich and ‘not rich’. “When we are ‘not rich’, we try to have relatively good homemade and locally grown food. But that same food changes as we go up the wealth ladder, which also means moving down the food-nutrition by consuming more of industrial and processed food. This necessitates putting some protective systems in place,” she added.
The theme for the Farmers’ Market was millets. The Market had all those ingredients that made sure to preserve our good health. As we went deeper into the Market, we saw a huge display of grains and vegetables that were also available for purchase, put up by individual farmers. The Market saw the participation from a huge number of farmers and farmer collectives like Kheti Virasat. We also tried out many dishes that were specially made out of these organic ingredients.
The stalls at the Farmers’ Market sold all kinds of vegetables grown using organic methods, millets, and even breads and dairy products. There were several important sessions held on traditional and natural food, food and health, air pollution and other important issues. Some well-known personalities from the world of food were also roped in to deliver talks at the event.
Besides, the Market also had a number of live educative demonstrations for visitors. We for instance came across a demonstration that showed how to make our own compost for growing vegetables at home. Another demonstration showed how to put together the right ingredients for a pot to grow plants, while another demonstrated how to create a healthy plate and a cooking demonstration on millets.
The best part was that the event could arouse interests in many visitors as they were seen buying plants and vegetables and also signing up for future workshops.
But the question that came to me over and over again was – are we really running out on good food and health? In the views of Ranjita Menon, CSE’s Programme Director for the Environmental Education programme, Good Food has always been around us, for the simple fact that we Indians throughout generations have been known globally to have preserved our bio-diversity as also incorporating natural food in our daily diet. Our forefathers have used millets instead of wheat or rice, ate vegetables sourced from forests rather than farms and changed their diet with changing seasons.
Then why has this sudden change emerged in our food habits? Is it because of a change in our lifestyle or is it because of the fact that good food is hard to come by?
The question might have become a tough one to answer, if it was not for events like Organic Farmer’s Market that cautions us to take corrective measures before it is too late and start with the habit of having local food built on local biodiversity.
Anyone lending an ear to this?
– Samrita Baruah / anjali Sethi Joshi