Food or Poison ?

Sweet tender coconut water, concoction of freshly prepared fruit juices or sugarcane juice become everyone’s favorite savor to beat the scorching heat. Yes, Summers are best to crave on succulent fruits and its juices on the platter. It not only soothes our digestive system, relieving our whole body and mind from heat but the benefit of having raw and natural product boons our health as well.

Health is wealth and its the food that we eat creates good health. When we were child, we used to learn in school and also hear from our elders the benefits of having raw fresh fruits and vegetables. I still remember, picking fruits directly from the tree and feeding on it or munching on raw carrot, cucumber, peas, coriander, cabbage, beans, cauliflower etc. and it used to be absolutely fine.

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Well, whatever I just mentioned is 100% true and proven but only if, these ripened, juicy, bright and plump looking fruits and vegetables would have been nurtured and harvested under organic conditions without invasion of pesticides, fertilizers and harmful chemicals. Sadly, the chronicles of farming industry jive a different story; farmers have embraced poisons for producing more food at the cost of consumers health and even life.

The context may frown many but as it is said that it always takes two to tango, we must admit that as consumers we are also the culprits under the scanner. I remember a few years ago when the tomatoes price hiked to Rs. 90/ kg or something, people became intolerant and fussy. This was the matter of discussion in Parliament of India. Being the consumers we never realize the extensive labour and care farmers put to their crops and vegetation for nurturing and growing food for all of us. Every year these humble farmers bear the heavy jolt of nature but they never give up producing food for others. Despite all their efforts, the mediators loot them for the value of their produce. The mediators take most of the benefits, even today. The structure of farming industry is still very sadistic for the farmers in India. We never mind buying costly clothes, jackets, watches, shoes, bags and other accessories but when it comes to fruits and vegetables which are the building blocks of our body and mind, even meager price seems very high. For cost cutting, increase in production was the prima facie solution which was answered by introduction of heavy pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals, making our food scathing and harmful to our health instead of rejuvenating it.

The uncontrollable situation today has reclined many conscious souls towards organic farming on their own which not only include people holding big chunks of land, albeit the common man living under the chaotic cubicle urban structures and they are truly setting benchmark for others to thrive for urban gardening culture.

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Urban gardening is not only replacing the conventionally grown food with organic food but also promoting many awakened societies / individuals for composting of their home generated waste. There is a very popular song by the famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore which goes like ‘’Jodi tor daak shune keu na ashe tobe ekla cholo re’ meaning ‘if no one responds to your call, move alone’.

Despite the efforts made by our government for waste segregation and recycling, our country as a whole is suffering from the mammoth issue of Solid Waste Management System (SWMS). Our mentality is such that we expect government to take care of everything, be it even our own generated waste. With no stringent rule imposed upon public under law, most people skip segregating their household waste and thus, at the downstream the waste that reach the municipality SWMS is moist waste which can neither be used to generate useful energy, nor, it can be composted to useful manure but becomes the monster sucking our precious land, water bodies and become the cause of pollution of every sort. I recently asked one of the waste collector who visits our house on daily basis for picking up waste from our colony; where does all these waste go? She replied in embarrassment that earlier the waste of our colony used to get dumped in an open area at one end of the colony and after the nearby residents complained about the pollution from the stinking landfill, now, the waste gets dumped behind the RDCIS wall. Both of these locations exist in our posh colony of white collared residents. But the helter-skelter waste management system in every such community is contributing to aggravated solid waste issue in our Country. Our mentality keeps us under the shelter of safe refutation, pretending that we are not responsible for the landfill because we never throw waste here and there, we put our waste in dustbin and hand it over safely to the waste collector. Isn’t this a big joke of our posh and white collared societies ??

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Waste segregation at the primary level (i.e., at every individual household level) can only solve the issue of SWM, either at community level (if your community is doing composting of wet waste and recycling of dry waste) or at the individual level. It is like if you mix it, you can’t fix it.

There is a loop of events which runs through every conscious step. Composting fetches you valuable organic manure which can be used in your kitchen / terrace garden for yielding healthy organic produce, thus, helping cleansing our entire system off the poison of pesticides and chemicals. This seems to be a double bonanza offer to me.

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Although the benefits of farming by oneself is immense to our health but this could be very tedious for many of us to follow. For the market bought fruits and vegetables, there is a simple step to remove harmful chemicals and pesticides from its skin. Washing fruits and vegetables in freshwater, after soaking them in baking soda for at least 10 minutes remove nearly 99% of pesticides and fertilizers from them as most pesticides and fertilizers are not stable at an alkaline pH which breaks down the compounds and helps to wash them away. Second, advice for avoiding these chemicals is surely to stick to locally grown food produce and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

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Thank you all and yes, happy composting, happy gardening and happy eating healthy food !!

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