When I was a little girl, I often accompanied my mother to the daily fruit and vegetable market in 8th Cross, Malleswaram(Bangalore residents will know what I am talking about). Vendors sat in makeshift shops made of a combination of bamboo and dried coconut leaves, on either side of this ever-so-narrow gully hawking their wares in their loudest voices. Green leafy bunches of Palak, mounds of onion and potatoes piled up threatening to spill out at any moment, tomatoes spilled over and squashed and stepped on painting the path red, offerings of free bunches of coriander and curry leaves to entice the customers, as the smell of fruit in various stages of ripening and decay surrounded our senses, were all part of the experience of our weekly visit to this market.
Fast-forward today. I buy online, basically due to convenience. Dehydrated blueberries and kiwi, imported apples, califoria red grapes and organic strawberries do make it to my grocery list sometimes. However, it does strike me that none of these items are grown anywhere near us, not even in our country. True, it is readily available to us now. Neither am I averse to change nor globalization. I love a creamy pasta with bechamel sauce or an indulgent tiramisu but I do believe we do not give due importance to the food locally available.
Heard of turmeric latte? Currently, it is heralded as ‘Golden milk’, and sold at premium prices at coffee shops abroad including Starbucks. Yes, it is nothing but ‘manjal paal‘ or ‘haldi ka doodh‘ which your grandmother gave you to soothe that achy throat. Have you tried this? Search for ‘yoga exercises’ on youtube. The number of foreigners teaching yoga online greatly outnumbers the Indians. I am merely citing these examples to drive home the point that we do not realize the worth of our practices until it is adopted by the West.
Circling back, I am here to remind myself and urge you to buy and eat food grown locally.
Here are the top reasons why you should “Buy Local, Eat Local”.
However, it is heartening to note, the increase in the number of people are going back to their roots. Awareness is also on the rise: Organic farming, terrace gardening, cold pressed oil, millets are all buzzwords of today. Here, I bring you the story of an entrepreneur who is the embodiment of going back to his roots and his brainchild “Organic Mandya”.
The story behind Organic Mandya
Madhu Chandran is the founder of Organic Mandya. He was a software professional in California. Two things about his hometown dawned on him when he made frequent trips for work to Bangalore. Firstly, the farmers weren’t getting their due and hence the next generation from his town was migrating to the cities. Farmer suicides were a common occurrence. Secondly, there were a lot of chemicals being used in farming. He decided it was up to him to solve these problems, moved his family back to India and founded Organic Mandya.
What they do:
Programs for the farmers
- Educate farmers about organic farming practices and techniques for healthier and better yield of crops. This is achieved through free workshops and organic farmer clubs in each village. Currently, there are clubs in 120+ villages.
- Women’s kitchen associations where they empower women to start a kitchen garden and also create and sell various organic products from their own homes.
- Buy organic produce from the farmers and sell it to the consumers. This helps the farmer get better returns on their crops as there are no middlemen involved.
Programs for the City-dwellers
They offer the urban population various ways to tread in the shoes of a farmer called ‘Organic Tourism’ with out-of-the-box initiatives like:
- ‘Sweat donation’ or what I would call “Farmer for a day” where you get to volunteer to work on a real farm(maybe one in need of labor) for a whole day.
- ‘Farm stay’ where you and your family get to stay and experience the village life in the home of a farmer
- ‘Farm share’ where you get to rent a piece of land which the farmer the farms for you. You can go visit the land and utilize the crops grown in it.
- ‘Team@Farm’ in which you can go along with your office teammates for a day out on their farms.
- ‘Organic Kids’ in which your children get to connect with nature. Ideal for school outings.
- ‘Training in Organic Farming’: Want to start your own terrace garden? They have a training for that too.
Organic Mandya products are now available on ‘Amazon’. Do look it up.
In conclusion, I would like to say that it is up to us as consumers to support such organizations that improve the quality of the food that we consume, our vital force for a healthy life.
Have you heard of any other organizations like Organic Mandya?
This article is written as part of #SuperBloggerChallenge2018, conducted by Healthwealthbridge, FashionableFoodz and Allaboutthewoman. It should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. SuperBloggerChallenge2018is not responsible for any kind of infringement caused. This article is based on one of the prompts given by India´s leading celebrity chefs, Vicky Ratnani for Week 3:´Getting maximal local in terms of food and menu offerings´. Thank you for the inspirational prompts!