Saturday, November 21, 2015

EAT LOCAL!

Hello all,

Today lets discuss about a fresh topic- FOOD!  We are all exposed to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the market. We have apples from Kashmir and Himachal, mangoes from Andra (banganapally, neelam) and Karnataka (alphonso) ,litchis from Bihar and so on. We also have Washington apples, New Zealand kiwis and China Pears in our markets. Fruit imports are growing at a rate of more than 25% each year.  These foods travel hundreds of kilometers requiring significant energy consumption for handling, storage and transportation with a good amount spoiling during the course of travel.  It is scientifically proven that fruits and vegetables start losing vitamins and nutrients from the minute they are picked, so long distance travel from other states leads to less healthy and nutrient vegetables and fruits.

We have always known the advantages and importance of Local Food Production. Locally grown fruits and vegetables generally end up in our hands at their peak of flavor because they are picked ‘in-season’. The only way to get it any fresher is to grow it yourself! One can notice the difference in the just-picked, mouthwatering taste of the fruits and veggies from local farms. Not just the taste, consuming local food has lot of other advantages.
  • By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their most freshest, most abundant, and least expensive.
  • Supporting local food systems generally means less energy, emissions and food kilometers associated with our food.
  • When you shop locally, it benefits the local farmers the most and help them sustain their livelihood.

These days, organic food is gaining importance with super markets and online food apps having separate organic food sections. People are conscious of what they eat. The negative effects of pesticides are increasingly gaining attention and organic food is  bought at high prices. Also, these organic items have reduced shelf life and hence should be consumed at source.

In this context, kitchen/terrace gardens have gained prominence in urban households. I  was always fascinated with the idea of growing our own food  at home. Growing up in Kerala where all typical house has a kitchen garden with curry leaves, spinach, ginger , mango trees, coconut trees, plantains etc, it was lovely to see you grow your own vegetables and have it. As cities grew and there was a shift from independent houses to flat system, these traditions started to wane. But  high pesticide uses in farming should alert us to go back to concept of terrace and balcony  gardens. It has lots of advantages.
  •  Organic food availability.
  • Practical learning for children.
  • Less energy use ( as compared to using food from far places).
  •  Green terrace – a positive environment.
  • Enhances micro climate by increasing oxygen production.
In smart cities, terrace/balcony gardens should source a portion of total food supplies of all citizens.

Planning is  important  in terrace gardens. Depending on the number of people in the household and the space available on the terrace and climatic conditions of that place, one can plan the terrace garden and achieve good yields.

I request all terrace/balcony gardeners to share information on their terrace/balcony gardens so that we can adopt your good practices in other parts of Pune as well.  

EAT LOCAL… STAY HEALTHY, STAY GREEN!

My small balcony kitchen garden - Aundh, Pune

*Check organic markets in Ludhiana here.

*There are organisations like iKheti (Mumbai), Edible routes (Delhi), Squarefoot farmers(Bangalore) who help in rooftop farming and related services.

Anu Kuncheria
anukuncheria@gmail.com