Making organic difference to health

Ramaninder K Bhatia, TNN | Sep 11, 2012, 11.23PM IST

VADODARA: For the last four days, mouth-watering aroma of frying masalas, theplas, raaviya nu shaak and traditional sweet dishes have been wafting through the CC Mehta auditorium.

In the evenings, the hall gets transformed into a huge dining area, where volunteers serve freshly-cooked, completely organic food to the visitors, coming to ‘Haryali’ a green event being organised by Jatan Trust and Faculty of Social Works, MSU.

After four days of partying, on Tuesday, the last day of the festival, the organizers would keep the dinner light -, with menu consisting of Poona misl- a dish made of sprouted pulses and flaked rice (poha), three types of chutneys, Idra and meethi boondi. On Monday, the guests had genhu seera made of gaulsari, apple raita, chickpeas, paranthas and finger-licking sprouts salad. The doodhi, palak and moongdaal soup spiced with onion and garlic served on the first day was an instant hit.

The raw material for Haryali’s organic dinner comes from ‘Vasundhara’, the trust- run organic food outlet, while rain water is collected to wash dishes. “Instead of using refined sugar, we use dates and Gaulsari (jaggery) for sweetdishes,” says Rajeshree Patel, one of the three-member team which is taking care of the organic dinners

“At Rs 100, we are serving a plate full of taste and nutrition, and in turn, a healthy life,” says Dhiru Mistri, one of the organisers. For good measure, charts hung on the walls compare the nutritional value of organic food versus conventionally grown-“conventional means, crops fed on chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides”, a volunteer points out quickly.

Its Haryali’s way of debunking Stanford University researchers’ latest findings which say that there is no significant differences in the nutritional value of foods grown organically or through conventional farming. “This food is tastier and healthier because it has not been fed on chemical fertilizers or indiscriminately sprayed with harmful pesticides,” says Anand-based Sarvdaman Patel, president of Organic Farmers Association of India (OFAI).

Than Singh, the ‘maharaj'(chief cook) is cooking organic produce for the first time, and claims, he can make out the difference. “The colour and fragrance of palak (spinach) was very rich, and it did not wilt for a long time. We didn’t need to add any artificial colours to our dishes, like we normally do, since these had naturally rich coAlour. Apples and potatoes don’t have ugly brown patches on the inside and the onions do not sting the eyes so much.”