Friday, 20 April 2012

Knowing where your food comes from

Two weeks ago, I had to move to another home since I had to vacate my better furnished and more beautiful room to accomodate a German couple. My hostess was pretty upset that I was leaving but I did not mind much because the new home was less than 100 meters away and I could drop by my old home almost everyday (and I still do). What I did not realize was the home-grown food that I was going to miss. And the tasty natural milk from the cows. And a chance to sit in front of the fire and wait for the milk to slowly come to a boil as I knit my scarf. A farmer's home is a lot more different as it is generally more active with a lot of work to be done, come rain or shine. There is cowdung to be cleared and taken to the fields, there is grass to be cut for the cows, goats to be taken care of, weeds to be cleared, seeds to be planted and plants to be watered.

The knowledge of where our food comes from does make a difference and can add to the satisfaction of a good meal. The closer it comes from, the less is the distance between us and our food (especially our daily meals). As my friend and roomie noted, when you eat with your hand instead of a spoon, it feels much better since you have nothing between you and your food. She being a European hadn't been exposed to eating with hands. I was impressed by her observation and the clarity with which she put her thought across. More so because English is not her native language. Coming back to food, my current hostess does grow some potatoes and greens, but nothing like having a larger land where you grow green peas, rajma, beans, methi, radish, onion, garlic, etc.. Additionally, the green house accomodates some exotic stuff like raspberries and brinjal (I call brinjal exotic because I do not remember seeing one in the last one month!).

The other advantage of having fields/gardens is that the cycle gets completed for kitchen waste. No food gets wasted, more so when there are cows. Even in my current home, food waste is given to neighbours who have cows, but the whole feeling is different. It is similar to living in urban areas where we live in small isolated islands, not knowing where food comes from and where the waste goes.
Though groups like DailyDump and MySunnyBalcony are doing a very job of closing this loop in individual homes with their composting solutions and urban gardens, there is still a long way to go. What worries me however, is that these beautiful villages are making the same mistake as their urban counterparts as families are either becoming smaller or are moving to towns and cities making fields and cows difficult to maintain. But, I also see hope as a few committed individuals like the people in the women's collective I am interning with have kept up their struggle to maintain what they have realized is important to them - their connnection with their land and everything that it produces.

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