Growing up as a child, I lived in my paternal house surrounded by tea plantations and small farmlands. I had often seen people working on our farms, spraying some sort of liquid on the crops. To this day, I perfectly remember that they weren’t wearing any protective gear. When I enquired, my elders told me that the spray kept away ‘bad’ insects and improved crop growth. What they failed to mention, or ignored, was that the ‘liquid’ was harmful to the environment and other life forms, including humans. To them, yield was more important because there was money to be made.
Now, you cannot completely blame the previous generations for shifting to ‘modern’ methods. After all, the population was ever increasing and most farmers were kept in the dark about what synthetic chemicals could do to the crops and their lands.
At the turn of the century, things started changing for the better. Environmentalists and health enthusiasts started campaigning against the use of pesticides and insecticides. With rapid growth of the internet, most people realised what was happening. This triggered a global food movement.
The Food Movement
People are now gradually migrating to ‘slow food’. Consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it is grown, the living and working conditions of the producers, its effects on the environment and animals and the like.
People have also slowlystarted realizing that fields treated with synthetic chemicals can have varied harmful effects on the farmers and their families, given that most of the farming families live very close to the farmlands. The pesticides also pollute the land and water sources.
Few of the notable things the food movement has brought to the fore are:
- The gradual shift to organically grown food.
- People questioning the use of GMOs.
- The movement has also highlighted the importance of conserving the bee population. Bees help in pollination and consequently helps increase crop growth.
- The movement has also made people realise and question the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in farmlands.
Even though people are changing, they aren’t changing fast enough. A few years have gone by since I last visited the family farms but I am pretty sure they are still being infected by those harmful, synthetic pesticides. It was only recently, after learning as much as I could about organic farming, that I and my father had a discussion about employing organic farming techniques in our farms and plantations. From my own experience, I can clearly see that it will take at least another decade before the entire world embraces organic farming.
Another issue that irks me is half knowledge. The food movement is a revolution that took root at the beginning of this century. 17 years on and there are still many who claim to be part of the revolution but have only partly understood what it is about.
When you talk to people about food movement today, the focus seems to be mainly on their families. People talk about organic, natural, GMO free and what not. But many don’t seem to worry or even think about the difficulties faced by the producers (farmers) and the environment.
I believe it is our duty to educate everyone about the importance of the food movement. People need to know every minute detail – including the health benefits, environmental benefits and monetary benefits for the farmers. Only when people understand the entire problem, will they be able to take an educated decision as to what needs to be done. Half knowledge is, was and always will be dangerous.
And Eat Your Food Slowly
We have discussed about the food movement, slow food and all that. But none of it will help you much if you don’t eat right. One of the main ingredients of the food movement is eating slowly. When you eat, you are supposed to chew slowly and enjoy each morsel. But in today’s world eating is done in too much of a hurry that people sometimes even tend to disregard what they are consuming. This trend needs to change. When you eat slowly, not only are you going to enjoy the taste, but you also tend to wonder about the health benefits of the food. So eat good food, chew slowly and lead a healthy life.