RIP DOSA AND IDLY – WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF ARTIFICIAL FOOD
Few months ago I wrote my experience in a vegetarian restaurant in Gandhi Nagar, Bangalore. For those who missed it, I am adding it here.
I have ordered for a plain “dosa”. I couldn’t eat that dosa fried in oil, served with sugar-loaded sambar and non-coconut chutney. Later I found that dosa batter was made of following constituents: rice flour, maida, sugar and soda powder or yeast so that it will ferment. It doesn’t contain black gram at all.
A flashback: There was a “Shenoymam’s Tea Shop” some 400 meters away from my house in the village during my childhood. When dosa batter is put in hot tawa, we get aroma at home! (Still it brings water in my mouth). Just like the way we make it in our home, hotels were using pre-soaked rice-black gram mix grinded later which will naturally blend and ferment – for the next day tasty dosa or idly. You can eat nice and soft dosa with hot sambar made up of farm fresh vegetables. Your parents or grandparents might remember those days! End of flashback.
I paid for the dosa without eating it. The hotel manager told me to order something else if I didn’t like dosa. I told him: “See, at home, we use rice and black gram to make the dosa batter.”
His reply: “Sir, we also use the same grains at home. But that is not feasible in hotels. The process of making batter consumes electricity. Black gram is expensive. You have to soak rice and black gram well in advance – that involves manpower. All are expensive affairs. So we use this short-cut. I don’t think any hotels in the city can provide you the dosa that you need.” Hotels add extra oil and sugar to cover-up the dis-taste.
Recently, I went to a hotel in Cochin (Ernakulum). While I was doing my graduation, I used to go to that hotel. The owner (who was around 40s then) was very friendly with me. He is no more. His son is running the hotel (bit modernized) now.
After initial chitchats, I asked him to get me Chapattis and Veg Kurma. He said: No Uday, you don’t take it…”
“It is made of maida. You don’t like it, do you?” As you know maida consists of harmful chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and alloxen that can cause all serious diseases. Now-a-days of restaurants and bakeries use only maida.
“Ok, then I would like to order for dosa”
“Hmm…It also contains maida, the remaining rice from afternoon meals and baking soda…” he admitted.
“Why? Your father was a good man…”
“Time has changed. Everything is 100 times expensive today. How can I make a living without moving along with time?”
“I feel sorry for you…” I said.
“I also know this is not right. But do I have any other alternatives?” he said. However, compared to other hotel owners, he could be called pious man!
On enquiry, I found many shocking things. Normal powdered wheat won’t sustain for more than a week. Today’s packed wheat flour sustains for one or two years (Sometimes they re-pack the old stock – who wants loss?) How do they make it? Adding preservatives like propionic acid, phosphoric acid, and benzoic acid and its salts at a very dangerous level.
Analysis of samples of curry leaf, coriander leaf, mint leaf, and green chilly had showed heavy load of Profenofos and Chlorpyrifos, organophosphorous fertilizers that should not be used in vegetables. All fruits and vegetables are also revealed high levels of pesticide residue. And the market is flooded with fruits that have been artificially ripened using dangerous chemicals (ammonia and carbide).
If you are a dead-body eater (i.e. non-vegetarian), it is still more dangerous. A broiler chicken is full of chemicals that have properties of contraceptive hormones. The consumers (except few) will end up in inorganic obesity and infertility. Bred to grow at an unnatural rate (27 days instead of 2 years), their legs struggle to support their weight and lameness and heart failure are common. The farmers also cut its beaks, so that they can’t pick food and cause damage to other birds or fight. Just ask those animal killers, how they create extra-size flesh and more weight in animals and birds.
“Oh, that was a tastiest food” I heard somebody commenting after coming out of a hotel. If something is tasty, despite of overload of chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, preservatives in agri-produce, then the credit goes to Ajinomoto (MSG = mono sodium gultamate). If you are not brave-hearted, don’t ask a chemist about the effect of Ajino in your body. Most of the artificial food preservatives, food colors and flavor enhancers can be dangerous chemicals added to our food.
“To counter food poisoning, I take tender coconut water everyday..,” said a friend of mine. To kill Kombanchelli (pests), they drill the coconut tree trunk till middle portion, nail-in Aluminum Phosphide and fill the hole with concrete. The tender coconut water has chemicals in it.
The biggest shock is so-called “organic” outlets in your city. Most of them are organic just for the name sake so that they can charge you double the cost. They source fruits and veg from the same market. In today’s circumstances, organic farming is possible only at individual level – you can cultivate for yourself (and may be for few others). Commercial organic cultivation is almost impossible task in Indian urban areas – I have personally experienced this. Agriculture produces are products of human greed.
Even the names are misleading. If you think “arrowroot” biscuits contain powdered arrow-root (a healthy food), just check the list of ingredients printed in the cover. Recently, a case was filed against a biscuit company. The company argued in the court: “We never said the biscuit contains arrow root. ‘Arrow-Root’ is the brand name of the product…!”
“The government is bringing food security bill – are you not scared?” I asked a trader.
“I am not scared – but buyers like you would end up in paying more…”
“Sir – the government will appoint few more officials to ensure food security – so that we will have to spend more money on bribery…naturally price will go up, you know…” he said. He knows India’s “economix” better than anybody. The more the laws, the more opportunities for corruption – that’s the nature of our country, the biggest demo-crazy.
We waste our time, effort and life in making money and spend it only to destroy our health and the Mother Nature. It is high time that we think about our kids and future generation = they cannot eat currency note or plastic money. The only solution is to create awareness at individual level. And every human being need to be a part-time farmer, at least to have a feel that we are living in the earth and there is something known as soil!
I feel really sad about today’s kids – they will never ever experience (in their life) the aroma that was coming from my village Shenoymam’s Tea Shop. And today’s rice and black gram that contains full of fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides do not have that taste and natural aroma.
But I can hear kids say: “We have pasta, pizza, and burger available at likes of McDonalds – we have KFC too… so who cares for dosa and idly????”
© Uday Lal Pai. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing at firstname.lastname@example.org