Slow Food Movement & Navdanya

The world, especially in the cities, is becoming a busy place. The system of joint families exist now largely in the villages. As more and more people are becoming qualified, they migrate towards the cities where their education  can earn them a good living. As the cities are becoming overcrowded, the cost of living increases and ultimately migrants are not in much better condition than they were at the native places.

The life has become so much hectic in the cities that the food for which we all are toiling day and night has taken a back seat in the list of preferences of human beings. The people are always in a rush. You can easily figure out children munching pieces of bread, apple or chocolates on their way to school. In India, food is linked with pious and religious feelings and is partaken after thanksgiving. Hands and face are washed before taking the food. Members present in the house prefer to sit on the mats on cleaned floor and see to it that they eat together. All this is changing rapidly due to the fact that more and more members of the family are employed somewhere and their schedules are different. People don’t enjoy their food. Some eat it while walking or doing office work.

Due to this, it  has become a world of fast food. The foods which are available within a few minutes after ordering. These are generally addictive type of foods because they appeal to taste buds. They are very high in fat and other harmful ingredients and contribute a great deal in the problem of obesity. The concept of fast food also means eating out. Eating out the bad food at a very cost. Results of all this become apparent when health problems like stress, obesity, blood problem and diabetes occur at an early age.

Many groups of people are making efforts to reverse this pernicious trend. One such movement is Slow Food movement. It was started by Carlo Petrini in 1986 in Italy. This movement strives to preserve tradition and regional cuisine of a region. It encourages the residents to preserve and grow the local varieties of seeds. The movement has since expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 132 countries. Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products.

In India, efforts are on to hark back to good old days and traditions followed in those days. One such movement is Navdanya (nine seeds) movement. It has been started by Dr. Vandana Shiva, in Dehradun. Dr.Shiva has analyzed in depth the green revolution in Punjab which ushered the country into self dependence in foodgrains. She has concluded that examined in the broader and long time context, it has done more harm to the land of state than the benefit. Results are indicating it to be true. Green revolution crops used single strains of seeds which necessiated the need of using very high quantities of insecticides. They also high amounts of fertilizers and water.

Results are not a happy augury. Water table has gone down. High amount of dangerous contaminants have seeped into the earth and underground water causing high instances of diseases like cancer. Even the vegetables and grains contain high amount of banned insecticides and pesticides. Ultimate cost the nation is going to pay is very high. It is another matter that whatever our elders sowed has to be eaten by the coming generations. The biggest culprit in this fiasco is the government which has closed their eyes to the use of dangerous pesticides. The others are agriculture Universities because it is these universities which teach the illiterate farmers.

Navdanya movement strives to preserve and multiply the local seed varieties. In fact, it has successfully saved the many varieties from extinction. In nutshell, the strategy is to sow mixed crops. Such crops are less prone to be affected en-masse and in fact grow successfully utilizing the different nutrients from the soil. The fertilizers are dung manure and pesticides are prepared from the leaves of trees like neem. The movement has revived the organic farming in the region.

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