Safe food mela: Know your food
New Indian express/Kriti Omprakash, ENS – Bangalore/03rd July 2012 08:36 AM
Food is an integral part of our lives, yet most of us do not stop to think about what we are consuming. Recently, a two-day Safe Food Mela held at Lalbagh kick-started a campaign that aims at creating public awareness around the issue of toxic inputs in our food and farming.
The Mela was inaugurated by music director V Manohar, along with Professor Siddaramaiah, an eminent poet and journalist and writer, Nagesh Hegde. Speaking at the Mela, Manohar addressed the issue of toxic pesticides. “It is unfortunate that in the name of growth and increasing production, we are poisoning our food,” he lamented. He also added “Encouraging farmers to shift to organic farming and supporting them in the process is everybody’s business and the government has to come forward to make this happen.”
Kavitha Kuruganti, one of the organizers, while interacting with City Express emphasized that the shift to organic food production has to happen on three levels at the individual level, at the level of the farmer, and also, importantly, at the level of the government.
When asked whether organic food is generally seen as an elite fad, Kuruganti replied, “Organic food is more expensive because the supply chain is low in volume, therefore transaction costs increases.
And the process of certification adds to the cost.” She also commented on the perception that organic food production is not viable due to lower yield. “The problem is not of production, but of distribution,” she explained. According to her, the poorest segment of society is the ones who have the greatest need for toxin free food because their immune systems are at greater risk. One of the focus points of the campaign is a petition to the government that looks at ensuring access to poison free foods and banning those pesticides that have been banned in other countries, among other things.
Kuruganti further added, “Mainstreaming is needed to create awareness.” As part of the awareness campaign, the organisers had posters that explained the health risks associated with pesticide exposure.
A poster exhibition and film screenings were held as well. There was also much enthusiasm for orientation sessions on urban gardening, composting etc. Organic seed savers from different districts put up seeds for display.
The Mela featured twenty nine organic food stalls, which had an array of products on sale.
‘Diabetic rice’ was one of the more unusual items, along with jaggery powder, a substitute for sugar. Organic pickles, spices and papads, and ready to eat ragi roti were also showcased.
Beyond the ordinary, customers were surprised to see jackfruit squash, organic coffee powder and herbal shampoos and creams. Veena and Venkatesh, a couple who had come for a return visit were bowled over by the Mela. “It is a very good concept; everything is available at one place. It should have happened long back,” they said.