Busting myths about our staple diet
The Hindu /Kaavya Pradeep Kumar/ July 9, 2012
Red, cream and black grains of rice stood in a neat row of earthen bowls, strung together and hung from the ceiling at the YMCA Hall here.
Handicraft items, cloth bags and sacks of rice were stocked in corners. Myriad varieties of rice, both indigenous and species from outside the State, were put on display at the Organic Rice Mela organised by Thanal, an NGO, along with Organic Bazaar and the Save our Rice Campaign.
The exhibition concluded on Sunday.
Apart from busting the myths about polished rice which is stripped off valuable nutrients leaving it only a source for starch and carbohydrate and promoting the traditional red rice that possessed medicinal properties, the mela that concluded on Sunday sought to highlight the use of hazardous pesticides.
The mela was organised as part of the launch of the Kerala-leg of the India for Safe Food Movement.
‘Missed call’ campaign
Posters on display at the mela and a ‘missed call’ petition campaign wherein people could register their complaints by giving a missed call to a particular phone number drew public attention to the fact that 67 pesticides that were banned in other countries for its severely hazardous properties were still being used in India.
Aamir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate in a recent episode highlighted the issue of the use of pesticides, pointing out that diseases such as cancer, heart ailments, diabetes and so on were on the rise because of the ingestion of food which were laced with pesticides and other chemicals during the processing stage. This raised public awareness, said R. Sridhar, a spokesperson at Thanal.
Posters on display at the mela proclaimed the dangers both farmers and consumers were subjected to due to the use of pesticides, calling attention to the indigenous varieties of paddy that were highly nutritious, stress-tolerant and had medicinal qualities.
“The response has been great, and we did not expect it to be so,” said Mr. Sridhar. “As we were run out of stock, we even had to order from the mills to satiate the overwhelming demand.”
The mela also offered customers the option to book their year-long supply of organic red rice, an endeavor that ensured the livelihood of farmers and distribution of safe and healthy rice. “Close to 50 bookings was made and this is just the start,” said Mr. Sridhar.
“We held hour-long discussions with the customers who turned up and it is wonderful to see the genuine interest to learn about a crop that is integral to our daily diet.”