ARE WE EATING THE RIGHT FOOD?

 

ARE WE EATING THE RIGHT FOOD?

We are what we eat, but how many of us know what we are eating? How many of us know what food does to the environment before it comes to our plate? How many of you know what food does to the farmer who is producing that food? How many of you think, when you are eating food, about the farmer who has grown it or the fate of the farmer who has produced it?

What is our food? What are we eating? How safe is our food? All of you saw this news some time back—pesticide residues in soft drinks and bottled water. But we are forgotten the next day. Have you ever thought about how pesticide residues got into this bottled water or soft drinks? If bottled water and soft drinks had pesticide residues, the water you used to make tea or coffee also must be having. But we never worry about it. The news is short; the next day, we forget about it. At least this must be in your memory:

Noodles have heavy metals. How many of you thought, how did these heavy metals reach the noodles? If the lead has to be added to the noodles, probably lead is more costly than the noodles. Nobody will add it, but it came. How did it come? If ingredients used to make noodles had the lead, then the 'aata' you used to make your 'chapati' must also be having. Or the 'samosa' which you're even eating must be having. But we don't connect the dots.

Same story when we hear about pesticide residues in vegetables. You all get horrified, but forget it in the evening. We all think if we buy food in the right place, or eat it in a good hotel, it's safe. Food is only as secure as it is grown. The end of pipe solutions doesn't work. The pesticides used in agriculture, less than 1%, actually kills the insects, 99% get into the water, gets into the air, and comes back into your food. We look at it very casually. Everything happening around us, we look at it very casually.

Do you know the eggs that you buy in the market? What kind of eggs are you buying? They are haploid eggs. Haploid means they are produced without male and female mating together. That's why if you hatch the eggs, they won't make chickens. But how are they created? They are produced by using estrogens. And what happens to those estrogens? When you eat those eggs, they'll come back to you. That's one reason today the puberty in girls has advanced. The gynecological problems in women have increased. Breast development in men has increased. Last year's India Today's survey shows that India's largest number of plastic surgeries is to remove breasts in men. You got into the situation where food, which is supposed to be healthy, is creating all these problems.

 It's not just the pesticides or antibiotics, or growth hormones used in production, but also how they are processed. You might have heard, artificially ripened fruits. But why are fruits ripened artificially? If all of you want to eat fruits off-season: how do they do it? If you wish to mangoes in May, how do you get mangoes? You have to cut unripened ones, ripen it artificially, and sell it. Bananas look uniformed yellow. What are they? They are all carbon ripened. The apples, the shiny apples which you see. What are they? When were they produced? Where were they made? Do you know? California apples, you get apples from California.

Can you keep it fresh? They are coated with wax. Go back to your home, take an apple from your fridge. Just scratch it. You'll see the resin. We are eating all that. The red watermelons they are injected with injections, color. They are injected with growth hormones. The milk which is sold, we have seen in the news of the last several years, the reports say, "The milk is contaminated with synthetic milk." If you want to have milk at 40 rupees a liter, that's what you get. We want food cheaper, and there is a competition between the companies. They pay low prices to the farmers. They also contaminate it and then get away with that.

All brands of milk sold in Hyderabad are prone to have been contaminated with synthetic milk. GM foods. How many of you know about this? How many of you have heard about this? BT Brinjal. I'll tell you simply what BT Brinjal is. When a pesticide is sprayed from outside, it damages the environment. Like I wrote, 99% goes into the atmosphere, only 1% kills the insect. So, scientists thought, "Why not producing pesticide in the plant itself?" So the plant produces insecticides so that whichever insect eats, the plant will die. But what happens to us? Who eats that? So, several biosafety questions in front of us were never addressed; what you see here, yellow, white, golden rice, will come soon. Do you know why it was done? They say vitamin A deficiency is a severe problem, so that we will produce vitamin A in the plant. If you eat that rice, you can have as much vitamin A as possible, but do you know vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin? It's not just enough to have vitamin A, but you also need to have enough fat, but if you have enough fat in your food, you don't need golden rice.

 Food is not only used energy, but also good for your health. It can treat many diseases. Food is medicine. It can act as preventive medicine and can also act as curative medicine. I know many people who are working on treating autism with good food. You see many problems - obesity, diabetes, blood pressure - because of the food you eat. It would help if you made the right choice about your food. Second: what food does to the environment. Let's look at the ecological footprints. How many of you have seen rice fields? Almost all, right? What comes to your mind when we think of rice fields? Full of water. How much water does it take to produce an acre of rice? 6 million liters. Six million liters per acre of rice. Which is equal to 100 families' annual consumption. One family of five members eats about a kilogram of rice a day, equivalent to a tanker of water: 180 showers. All of us want to eat rice. You need more and more water for the production of rice.

While many of you worry about organic food prices, the organic Sahaja Aharam prices are 20% lower than the market prices, and 75% of what the consumer pays goes to the farmers. In the stock market, it is just 20%, which goes to the farmer.  What do I see from here? I see a ray of hope. It's possible. If all of us can join hands together, we can make a change. But it's a long way to go in terms of Government Policies.  It's the responsibility of all of us. Business as usual is not an option. We need to change as consumers; we need change as farmers. We all need to come together to pressure the government to make a change. Otherwise, the future is very, very bleak.

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