Health Food

At the shandy, on Saturday, I was treated to a cup of tea by an old man who rode pillion behind me to Karumandurai. Then, I got into a conversation with Shiva, my kaaikaran (vegetable vendor).

He very sweetly warned me about the danger to children of consuming “Gold Winner” (the most common packeted refined oil we get hereabouts) . His doctor had told him that all this refined oil was made for adults who need to worry about cholesterol and high blood pressure and so forth. Children need all the stuff that is “refined out” of the oil.

This is something we intuitively were aware of, but it was heartening that “knowledge” like this reaches people like Shiva and the tea-kadais of Karumandurai. His response was to start buying unrefined groundnut oil for his granddaughter and to add crushed peanuts to her diet.

Moreover, harking back to the good old days, he was also organising to get from Aandi , “mettukaatu nellu” (highland paddy) which is grown organically, and rainfed; not in pumped-up standing water with tons of chemical inputs.

We have grown this rice on our land for a few years, until unavailability of labour at the crucial planting time, and the rat menace forced us to give it up. We (and perhaps some of you reading this!) can attest to the awesome taste. We got our paddy mill-ground, alas, but hand-pounded mettukaatu rice would be impossible to beat for taste and nutritive value!

Related to this, I see the Organic certification industry as another “middleman/broker” business which does not help small farmers
After all, Shiva can buy mettukaatu nellu from Aandi because he knows Aandi, Aandi’s fields and mettukaatu nellu. Aandi and millions of small farmers like him can not afford certification which is, as far as I can see, an urban-consumer-based affair (dare I say racket?)

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