As we explained in one of my earlier articles, the main reason for switching to a healthier lifestyle was the birth of our daughter. We did not know about (or didn’t care enough to explore) organic food and it’s health benefits till that happened. Then the first steps were taken by buying organic food from Gorus. The very next week there was the telecast of a public awareness program called – Satyamev Jayate (www.satyamevjayate.in) spearheaded by one of India leading movie personalities – Mr. Aamir Khan. In this particular episode of Satyamev Jayate, they addressed the topic ‘Toxic Food – Poison On Our Plate’. This brought to light a whole lot of information regarding the kind of food that we purchase from the market and the effects of conventional food on the human body as well as the environment.
The episode of Satyamev Jayate opens with a jarring eye-opener about the amount of pesticides present in mother’s milk which is the first source of food for a child. The fact that research has shown that it is 800% more than what our bodies are able to tolerate, is astounding. The audience, comprised of housewives who buy and cook food for everyone in their house along with some husbands who cook as a hobby and youngsters who are following a career in catering, are in open-mouthed shock at this revelation. Below is an excerpt from the episode that I’ve edited out along with others. For those who want to see the whole episode on youtube, click here. The telecast is in Hindi, but I was fortunate enough to find a version with English subtitles to share with everyone around the globe.
After explaining the meaning of Pesticide, Aamir goes ahead to show us an example of the effects of one of the chemicals used in pesticides – Endosulfan, on the community of a district in the South of India called Kasargod. This is in the state of Kerela and the pesticides were used for the irrigation of Cashew trees. This pesticide was sprayed over 15,000 acres of fertile land, by helicopters for about 25 years, in the excess of a hundred thousand litres. More than 5000 people were devastated due to the effects of this poison. Viewer discretion is advised as the images are heart wrenching. Following which Aamir invites Dr. Mohan Kumar who has been treating patients who are fighting a losing battle against this killer. This fine gentleman found himself unable to leave the multitudes of patients behind to follow a glorious career in the cities and due to his self-sacrifice and relentless efforts, finally, the people of this region are now able to stand a ground against the ill effects of this chemical.
Now Satyamev Jayate gives us an insight into the use of the pesticides from the very farmers who grow the crops that we consume on a daily basis. One of the most astounding revelations was that even though the farmers are using them in their irrigation, to gain more benefit commercially, they themselves don’t consume the products they supply to the market. They grow separate crops for the consumption of them and their families without the use of pesticides, to avoid their ill-effects. Also, the merchants who sell the pesticides don’t eat food grown by conventional farming. Following which Aamir invites Ms. Kavitha Kuruganti associated with ASHA (Alliance of Sustainable and holistic Agriculture), who dwells into the real reasons why farmers and merchants are using pesticides in India, most of which are banned all over the world. She also brings up some statistics regarding the amount of pesticides being used to grow crops and how much of it, we are actually consuming. Let me give you a hint – it’s alarming…!!!
Next, we get introduced to Dr. Shree Gopal Kabra who has been practicing medicine in a city called Jodhpur in the State of Rajasthan in India. Over the ages, he has been doing a ton of research on the ill-effects of pesticides on the human body and one of the most shocking revelations was found in the gynecological clinics. Newborn babies were born without completely developed body parts like a brain, reproductive organs etc. He also pointed out that even after knowing that these pesticides are causing these ailments, we are constantly using them in our irrigation and in excess amounts.
It’s time now to find out how and why these pesticides entered our food chain. One phrase – Green Revolution. We also get a very insightful interview with Dr. Vandana Shiva, an Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author based out of the country’s capital Delhi. She denies the statement that without Green Revolution our country would have starved and gives us a very passionate and in-depth account of the effects of this unprecedented event. She also emphasizes on the benefits of mixed farming as opposed to monoculture which is a direct result of Green Revolution. Her solution for salvaging the populace from this rather poor state that we find ourselves in is Non-Toxic Diversified Organic Farming. See it to believe it…!!!
Once you get over the shock of how bad things have really got, Aamir astounds again by bringing to us the MD and Chairman of India’s biggest pesticide company United Phosphorus Ltd., Mr. Rajju Shroff. India has the largest Pesticide industry in Asia with a turnover of around 180,000 million Rupees. Again it’s a matter of seeing is believing, but the arrogance of this man is beyond any description I can give in my write-up. In his ambition to earn money this man has stripped himself of any and all humanity. The worst part is when Aamir offers him a solution to growing the same amount of food without using pesticides, he starkly refuses and states that he would still prefer pesticide ridden food.
Cancer Train – speaks for itself…!!!
So, is there no solution for this sorry state we find ourselves in? The good news is – there surely is and it’s called NPM (Non-Pesticide Management)…!!! One of the persons we can thank for this is agricultural scientist Dr. Ramanjaneyulu who through is relentless efforts has brought back a cheap and safe method to keep pests away in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. These include Pheromone traps, yellow traps and many more. These methods have reduced the cost involved in growing crops as well has improved the health of people from the region.
Now we get to meet the farmers who have moved from pesticide based irrigation to organic farming. We also get a glimpse at the future with a video chat with the CM of the state of Sikkim, the only 100% organic state of the country. Also, we get to meet a farmer from the state of Rajasthan who has been successfully organic farming for the last 8 years.
Finally, we get the reaction of the audience who were present in the room during the entire recording of this show. The question that is hanging around as food for thought is – Why not?
In conclusion, after viewing Satyamev Jayate, we can all agree that consuming organic food is, without a doubt, the only solution for living a healthy and prosperous life for us and our children. The show ends on an encouraging note that eventually the whole world will embrace this lifestyle supported by the governments all around. Also, which Indian show would be complete without an enthralling end-song routine…Cheers…!!!