Is our Food Sovereignty at risk?

70th Republic Day Musings

Greetings to you from Bio Basics on this 70th Republic Day!

As we observe and celebrate this day when we became a sovereign republic it behoves us to think of food and farm sovereignty of our nation – a forgotten truth.

Today food has become a commodity and farming an industry or business. Whereas, by design, farming as its name suggests ‘agri-culture’ was supposed to be a part of the culture – not an agri-business.

Republic Day 2019

First, we gave away farming as we found it tedious and moved to cities and felt comfortable leaving it to a smaller group of people. Then we decided that it is not a highly skilled job and paid them very less for their produce. This led to farmers becoming desperate and become prey to any suggestions from chemical manufacturers to increase yield and began using chemicals indiscriminately – a situation we (who had become consumers) have actually forced upon them.

And now we ask the rhetorical question, “How can the farmer do this and poison the food?” The answer is – out of desperation, out of the need to sustain himself/herself.

The farming families are not getting away unscathed in this commodity production process, cancer is at an all-time high in rural India, diabetes (induced by chemical exposure) is rising, skin and allergy problems are rampant. Also, we have a situation where farmers in unprecedented numbers are abandoning farming, which is a huge crisis for a highly populated country like us.

The next is food, families used to cook regularly and made time to take packed food to work or schools or even trips. That is now slowly dying and we are trying to outsource food, the cheap restaurants, takeaways. The processed foods in the grocery aisles that promise enhanced taste, added vitamins are alluring and we have all fallen prey to these to a lesser or greater degree.

Cooking is coming down in most households and we are willing to close the kitchen for the smallest of reasons. And the last nail was the series of ads I saw running in the cover page of national dailies exhorting us to “have a no cooking January” through their home delivery from various restaurants. I am sure it is a tempting offer to many. I am appalled that we have reached this stage where feeding ourselves has been completely surrendered and outsourced.

So now we have no idea who, how and where our food is produced. Come to think of it, tomorrow if we have a planetary crisis the only skills that would help us survive are foraging, recognising wild foods, growing crops and preparing food.

Our disconnect with farming and food is behind the lifestyle epidemics we are seeing unfolding, and no age group has been spared. As a nation growing and feeding our population is an essential component of maintaining our sovereignty.

So, on this Republic Day, I urge all of us to think about our farm and food sovereignty. Let us pay our farmers well, help them grow food that is safe to eat and sustains the environment and water, respect their need to earn a sustainable living and ensure that real food comes to our homes, plates, and bodies.

I thank every one of you for supporting organic farmers and contributing towards farm and food sovereignty and urge you to continue to support natural chemical-free farming and food. Also move towards naturally produced fabrics without toxic dyes, vessels made of natural substances and cosmetics and home-hair and body care products. These serve the three-fold purpose of being safe for us, nourishing for the environment and providing fair livelihoods.

Thank you and greetings once more on this 70th Republic Day of this nation!

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