Go Organic Stay Healthy!
Food is undoubtedly the basic necessity of all living creatures. A given eatable only qualifies to serve as an ideal food when it resides in it an intrinsic potential to nourish our bodies, without at the same time causing any harm. Given the present scenario in the age we live in, where the methods of food production and preservation using the pesticides, chemical fertilizers, preservatives, etc. and causing mutations at genetic level only to increase the food production, without caring for the repercussions, may however, challenge and contradict the very basic purpose of the food articles, as source of nutrition and health. And, unfortunately as a consequence, instead of imbibing energy, proteins, vitamins, minerals and other essential components to nourish our bodies and minds, we are passively taking these harmful chemicals along with the foods only to invite multitude of grave problems that drain us of our energy, time, and of course land us in a state of bankruptcy, thus corrupting us physically, mentally and economically. It is perhaps the gift of present godless modern age that we have adopted this attitude in this regard.
True, in order to survive in the market, the food industries have to increase their production, but at the same time ensuring that the consumers are getting their money's worth in terms of quality, standard and its wholesomeness. The corporate farming pursues profits through unabated and non judicious use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, genetic engineering, etc. even though there occur ample indications that when, for example milk is produced through altering hormones in cows, as with other products of genetic engineering when applied to food, it can alter the composition of food and lead, among other things, to a loss of chemo-preventative agents (that occur naturally) in food which can prevent cancer. The following letter to the Editor of an American newspaper published in 1994 is revealing:
Genes Tell Story Why Some Get Cancer While Others Don't (Science Times, May 17) is on track. Not only are there markers to indicate where a specific alteration in DNA is but there are essays which may indicate the degree of DNA damage. There may also be chemo-preventative agents to repair damaged DNA before the cell divides and thus prevent the mutations that may cause cancerPerhaps, we will find more chemo-preventative agents occurring naturally in foods than laboratories can ever produce. Carlyle Miller MD. President, Cancer Prevention Research Institute, New York The lesson which emerges from this letter is that we should consume only that food which is pure and produced the natural way. But the natural way of production is labor intensive. As a consequence, food which is produced the natural way is more expensive to produce and is thus becoming increasingly scarce. But with active support of the governments and the concerned world bodies like FAO, WHO, WFP, IFOAM, etc., this limiting factor could not only be overcome, but we can at the same time ensure that our biggest wealth that is of course our health is not jeopardised. An opportunity has presented itself for us to enter into the field of food production to produce food which is pure. That would be the food which is produced the natural way, i.e., Organic farming. It will surely cost more, but it will be healthy food and capable of preventing cancer (through its intrinsic chemo-preventative agents). By making such food available to the people, we will advance the cause of humanity in the whole world through the elimination of one of the major causes of illness in modern west-hit societies. A project of food production through natural means i.e., organic farming can thus function as nature intended:
i. as a source of nutrition and energy,
ii. as a cure for certain illnesses, and
iii. as a preventative for disease such as cancer
With this project, it can be logically anticipated that the people around the world, particularly those of western countries, who are increasingly exposed to the growing risks of cancer (in particular breast cancer) would respond with gratitude to the pioneers and forerunners of this grand humanitarian project. At the same time, we shall be able to save our environment and other flora and fauna from these hazardous substances that accumulate in the food chain through biomagnification and bioconcentration.
The term 'organic' signifies food or farming methods practicing without using artificial chemicals i.e. something natural and inherently good. Organic farming encompasses a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem, health including biodiversity, biological and soil biological activity (FAO/WHO Codex Ailmentarius Commission Guidelines, 1999). It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain or enhance ecological harmony (National Organic Standard Board of USDA). Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972. So, it isn't altogether a new concept at all. Already several nations, including India have adopted this practice. Recently, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (Traditional Farming Improvement Programme) has been launched by the Government of India to support and promote organic farming which is a good sign in this respect. Under this programme, the Govt. is assisting the farmers to promote organic farming via cluster farming. Each farmer will be provided Rs. 20000 per acre in three years for seed to harvesting crops and to transport them to market. So there is a growing awareness regarding economic and health benefits of organic farming. But the requirement is that we have to launch it at a higher pace with great enthusiasm so that we are able not only to increase the organic food production (and hence control its prices), but also ensure that we get a spick-and-span food, which would in itself be a source of energy, a curative, and a preventative for diseases for all.
(Ruheel Ahmad Mir is presently pursuing BVSc & AH at SKUAST-K, Srinagar)