Live cooking and other demonstrations made at Organic Farmers’ Market organised by Centre for Science and Environment
Visitors learnt how to grow organic vegetables on their rooftops and balconies; experts answered queries on food and health
CSE plans to hold similar events to increase interface between food-growers and consumers
New Delhi, January 29, 2016: Whether it was to learn how to find safe and health-promoting foods in a market replete with toxic foods, or to learn how compost is made or millets are cooked, or to learn how to growvegetables on a small rooftop, CSE’s Organic Farmers’ Market saw visitors in large numbers. “I could sense the joy visitors felt in learning about traditional and organic food,” said Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE.
The Organic Farmers’ Market was Held at two levels – one for talks and demonstrations and the second for stalls selling a wide range of articles – from food and milk to plants –visitors not only kept pouring in till the Market wound up, but also spent much time around, learning about what interested them.
CSE has been a strong advocate of ‘good food' – which uses traditional, non-toxic and natural ingredients. Ranjita Menon, CSE Director for Environment Education said, “What distinguished the Organic Farmers’ Market was the emphasis on gaining knowledge. While a large number of people spent time at the stalls learning new skills, talks were delivered and demonstrations made amid full house.”
The talk and demonstration session by experts such as nutritionist Ishi Khosla, India Habitat Centre Chef Rajiv Mehrotra, Umendra Dutt from Kheti Virasat and Jayashree Nandi, journalist and CSE MediaFellow.Talking about the right diet, Khosla said a simple method could be used to ensure one eats the right ingredients: “If you divide the plate in two halves, one half should consist of only fruit and vegetables.”In another talk, Nandi described the challenges faced by the Kutia Kondh tribe in Odisha whose traditional diet – which was a healthy and balanced – is under threat as their access to the land (which they do not own) is getting restricted.
Overwhelming interest was seen among visitors to various stalls. One of these was Edible Routes, a unique enterprise run by Kapil Mandawewala and his team. Kapil has been holding workshops on how to grow organic vegetables on rooftops and limited spaces people have in the national capital.Kapil’s organisation also helps people set up their kitchen gardens, farms. It also handholds and manages these. “You can start with baskets and pots for growing vegetables if you don’t have space, but a lot of homes do have a few square feet of space which receives around four hours of sunlight which is needed for growing vegetables,” he said. Interested visitors bought plants and vegetables and also signed up for future workshops.
Another stall, managed by 4S Milk, offered milk for tasting while the representatives answered questions on what merited the labelling of their milk as organic and so on. At the end of queries and questioning, many signed up for getting organic milk at their doorsteps.
The fact that this was a market with a difference was apparent in the interest of visitors in not just purchasing the goods but in establishing whether these qualified as organic. For example, the representatives of Jaivik Haat, selling fruit and vegetables at a stall, faced a volley of questions on how they ensured that the oranges and pomegranates (way more expensive than the usual fruit) which they procured from Maharashtra were organically produced. “We train the farmers to ensure that they follow certain methods,” said the stall manager in response to a visitor’s question.
In her closing remarks, Narain said CSE would continue to hold events which provided an interface between food-growers and people.
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