Ss a teenager I would never have imagined that I would be involved with organic…I was happy-go-lucky, eating whatever was served up, and busy with life. But then a child was born to me that made me want to get involved with food. As a parent and as a tired mother, the normal fare did not supply me with the energy I needed to take care of my child. I wanted the best for my baby. I was shocked to hear that almost all the food we consumed was refined and incapable of supplying us with needed nutrients. Soon I realised that it was worse than that, not only were these foods robbed of their nutrients, but they were grown with chemical fertilisers and sprayed with pesticides that made them toxic to us. As a young mother I wondered why no one else seemed perturbed. This was in the early 80s. Today, 35 years later, with pollution, junk foods, sedentary lifestyles and diseases getting worse, the need for safe food has become even more urgent. For me, organic is simply another word for safe food.
The layers of habit
However, people also eat refined organic food like white rice. I have always wondered why anyone in their right sense, would remove the layer that contains the wealth of nutrients from the rice. Famers who eat white rice surprise me even more since they know the effort it takes to grow rice, imagine then polishing off the nutrients that the rice has absorbed from minerals in the soil, the Sun’s energy and the ions of the atmosphere. So here we take the word “organic” to mean not just chemical free, but also whole unrefined foods that nourish the body.
Where does that leave town and city dwellers? Soon at the mercy of industrialised foods. Gone will be the days of open-pollinated seeds. There will be only hybrid seeds so farmers have to buy for each season afresh. Scarier than that is that one company will own all the seeds and we will be at their mercy. These genetically modified seeds may cause ill health, may even cause our genetic make-up to be affected and then there is no turning back. It is disturbing that this has occurred! So before this unfolds, we need to be very clear about our support of farmers, especially organic ones, who understand the importance of no chemicals, the importance of keeping the soil healthy with multicropping, mulching, composting, new ways of dealing with pests, water harvesting, keeping traditional crops going, finding markets, forming groups to market (which is how The Farmers’ Market became a reality in Mumbai), saving seeds, learning more about vedic agriculture, biodynamic farming, permaculture etc. All this keeps the soil regenerating for our future, keeps farmers healthy and away from pesticide-loan-related debts and suicides, keeps us healthy and the planet clean and green.
In the next couple of decades itself if we lose our next generation farmers to other livelihood, then we will have lost something more precious than anything else…We would have lost our agricultural wisdom that will not be passed onto the farmers’ children. It will be a great loss to the nation, and the world if our tradition, heritage and culture do not have this next generation farmer to do what only they know how to do best – feed us with safe, pure, indigenous food.
So those who feel organic is a fad, should try it out for themselves. Besides all the truths presented in this article, my challenge to all is to taste the goodness of organic, only then will you be able to know that thus far you have been tasting chemicals. That is the change that is needed. Choose organic. Feel the difference and taste food as it was meant to be! Awareness of this is crucial to popularise organic. Farmers’ Markets are the only way. We have Farmers’ Markets in every town and village of India, now we need to lay stress on organic produce at these markets just as we have done for The Farmers’ Market in Mumbai (www.farmersmarket.co.in). The government has to make space available for this. Different companies do their bit, good ones bring about awareness, those that do not may only be in it for the money. Check out why the company was started and you will know whom to trust.
Human health and well being is only a side benefit! The future is organic only because it is the way we used to be before adulteration by western chemicals! India has been organic before the word came into being. We are simply going back to our roots by choosing organic. It is the only way forward because it is what sustained us for centuries before the advent of chemicals. My dream is that, going ahead, we no longer need the word organic because everything will return to its original state and be safe, healthy and whole, for all and everywhere.