Straight from the farm to fork

Are you fretting over the preservatives in your veggies? Try going au naturel, suggests Shameek Chakravarty

health

When was the last time you visited a farm? Ever wondered what it takes to grow a kilo of tomatoes that you so easily pick up from the supermarket aisle? Have you ever paid attention to where your bag of vegetables came from? Ask an eight-year-old if he/she knows where rice comes from, she will probably point at the supermarket.

Kids today are unfamiliar with natural ingredients and have little interest in knowing how fruits and veggies are grown. In fact, even adults have little clue about how food is grown. Many of us today are far removed from the source of our food production. We are detached from the whole process of food production because we aren’t aware about how our everyday food decisions can impact our health.

We live in a world of processed food available to us 24/7. We are accustomed to eating food that has travelled a few 1,000 km before it reaches our kitchen and is laden with preservatives to keep it ‘fresh’. In our everyday fast-paced lives, we choose convenience over nutrition and nourishment. Refrigerated, pre-packed and processed foods are a way of life for most of us. We eat food laced with chemicals every day. Even when we buy fresh produce marketed to us as organic or natural, we can never be sure if it has been really grown naturally without chemicals.

We have all heard about the expression ‘you are what you eat’. Eating fresh and chemical-free vegetables will lead to a healthier life. If you want to take charge of your health, it’s time to take a second look at your food source. Farm to Table, or popularly called Farm to Fork, simply means that your fruits and vegetables come from a nearby local farm, without going through a supermarket, a distributor or any other middlemen. It’s fresh, free of pesticides and locally grown. Below are a few reasons why Farm to Table matters for a healthy living:

 

Better for you: Come summer and we think of mangoes. The thought of eating ripe and juicy mangoes triggers images of a bright summer day as an in-season mango picked from the farm is at the peak of its freshness. However, over the last few decades, due to modern food processing and storage techniques, a variety of seasonal foods are now available throughout the year. We tend to forget that seasonal produce is a part of the natural cycle. Certain types of fruits and vegetables are meant to be grown in specific weather conditions. Making them available all 12 months of the year is a disturbing trend. Off-season produce is laced with ripening agents, chemicals and preservatives to make them look fresh. For example, we get apples throughout the year — but apples don’t actually grow throughout the year. Much of this produce is actually kept for many months in cold storage before it reaches your plate. The nutrient content reduces when apples are picked when they are not ripe and then treated with a chemical called 1-methylcyclopropene, waxed and kept in cold storage for as high as nine-12 months. Sometimes they are also sprayed with fungicides to reduce chances of fungal rots from taking hold. Both taste and nutrition are affected in the process.

 

Better for the environment: Locally grown produce travels much less “food miles” to reach your plate from the farm. That means, less fossil fuel has been burnt to get your food to you. In addition, because local produce reaches us soon after harvesting, there is little need to use chemicals to preserve and prolong shelf-life of the produce. When you buy produce that is in season and grown by a local farmer, not only are you getting fresh food brimming with nutritional value, you are also reducing your carbon footprint. The need to use cold storage is reduced, leading to a further lowering of emissions. Supporting local farms also has a direct positive impact by promoting green spaces in the neighbourhood of the concrete jungles that our cities have become.

From chefs to home cooks, there is growing momentum for Farm to Table among urbanites — and this trend is very heartening. Choosing to buy vegetables and fruits from a farm nearby can have a positive influence on your health, the environment and the local economy. 

(The author is CEO & founder, Farmizen)

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Straight from the farm to fork

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