The safe food

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Organic foods are considered by many as a fad. But it’s an absolute necessity if we want to preserve our soil and encourage the next generation of farmers, says Kavita Mukhi, who is behind The Farmers’ Market initiative in Mumbai. She also debunks some myths about organic food.

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.

The organic cafe

The organic cafe

We have come to the point in our civilisation where farmers and farming are in a pathetic condition. We are used to buying cheap food, farmers do not calculate labour, rent etc., like other businesses do. We will pay more for clothes, jewellery, shoes, perfume, even restaurant food, but balk at paying the right price for farm produce, which is what organic is being priced at. Because of our apathy in this area, farmers are committing suicide and their children are opting for work in other fields, maybe only growing enough for their own families.
Local farmers and growers get a fillip with The Farmer’s Market

Local farmers and growers get a fillip with The Farmer’s Market

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.

A healthy living primer from Kavita Mukhi
With your own cooking style, you only need to switch to whole and organic ingredients to make your food work for you. This is how:
Use organic saindhav namak (rock salt) and whole sea salt
Use organic ghani oil (cold pressed) of safflower (kardi), peanut, seasame, coconut, sunflower and mustard and organic ghee and milk
Use organic whole unpolished brown and red rice
Use organic wheat bread or better still, Indian rotis and organic millets
Use organic jaggery and unrefined sugar
Use organic dals, spices, herbs, tea, coffee, honey etc
And of course, organic fruits and vegetables from The Farmers’ Market!
Absorb sunshine, be active, be productive, be loving and be happy
Feed your staff the same and be even happier

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.


Kavita

Kavita Mukhi

The writer pioneered the marketing of organic food in India over three decades ago. As an eco-nutritionist, la leche leader, lymphologist and craniosacral therapist, she imparts an honest, practical way of staying healthy. Realising the difficulties of agriculture on her own natural farm, she initiated The Farmers’ Market in Mumbai in 2010. In its Season VII now, the market has helped a large group of farmers to be self-sufficient, build water tanks, buy vehicles and travel to conferences. It has helped their next generation to remain in the field. Crucial if we want our children to inherit an earth with living soil, pure air, clean water and safe food.

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