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A D O W N T O E A R T H S U P P L E M E N T
MAY 15, 2004
A P O N D E R I N G PA N D I T J I
Dear Gobar Times Readers,
Sugar. We just can’t do without it. Or so we think. What is Diwali without Doctor's advice:
yummy mithai? What’s a birthday without a mouth-watering rich chocolate cake Jaggery, honey, fresh
topped with sugar icing. What’s a burger without a soft drink. (Yes, a can of soft fruits... The healthiest
drink is about 8 teaspoons sugar!) But we seriously have to ask ourselves: Is sugar source of sugar —
nutrition or entertainment? Refined sugar has no nutrition but empty calories. And sweet, natural, unrefined,
a report by the World Health Organisation has linked excess sugar intake to unprocessed.
obesity, after which heart diseases and diabetes follow. The report advises us to Just like me. Heh, Heh!
consume less than than 10% sugar in our diet (as against 25-30% earlier thought
safe). So are sugar and sugary products mostly about fun and entertainment?
If yes, then fun at what cost? For the first time in history, there are more
overnourished people than undernourished ones. So the solution is easy right?
Less sugar. Wrong! Sugar drives soft drink giants, fast food industry and the
processed food industry, which have already rubbished the report. They’ll fight
tooth and nail to see sugar consumption doesn’t go down. But the final decision will
be left with your sweet tooth.
– Pandit Gobar Ganesh
Is there a relationship between the hugely
higher modern levels of sugar consumption,
and the wave of obesity that has swept over
the developed world and is now reaching the
poorer countries? WHO thinks so.
oday almost everything has sugar inside it. More Than Just Cavities
It’s bad for our teeth, we keep telling But first, why this restriction and exactly how
ourselves, but scientists are discovering how harmful is sugar to the body? For one, whenever
too much sugar can damage almost every part of you eat sweets, you get a sugar rush and blood
the body. Till recently it was thought that if sugar glucose levels rise rapidly. So the pancreas
consisted of 30 per cent of your diet, it was fine. secretes a large amount of insulin to keep glucose
Then the American National Academy of Sciences levels down. This large insulin response makes
brought this figure down to 25 per cent. And blood sugar fall to levels that are too low 3 to 5
everybody seemed OK with that. hours after the sweets have been eaten. Now, the
But now, there is a storm brewing. A panel body doesn’t like this much fluctuation.
of experts appointed by The World Health Secondly, sugars are just “naked calories”,
Organisation (WHO) has found that it isn’t safe to that is they are packed with energy, but they
consume no more than 10 per cent of sugar in have no nutrients. No fiber, no minerals, no
our diet. The powerful sugar lobby, alarmed at it’s proteins, no fats, no enzymes. So the body has to
profits crashing, has rubbished the WHO and borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to
threatened to move US Congress and stop metabolise the incomplete food. Calcium,
funding to the WHO. sodium, potassium and magnesium are taken
66 Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement
from various parts of the body to make use of the
sugar. That also severely harms the body.
Sugar makes us fat? Big Sugar, Big Politics
In fact, this issue is at the centre of the whole
global sugar debate. Last year, the WHO report If the world takes heed of
on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic the WHO guidelines,
Diseases said that people could reduce their risk then a huge proportion
of obesity, diabetes and some heart problems by of the sugar industry's
curbing sugar consumption. market would disappear,
Now how does that work? Excess sugar is so of course it fights it.
stored in the liver in the form of glucose (glyco-
gen). Since the liver's capacity is limited, a daily
intake of refined sugar above the required America’s Sugar Association—which includes sugar
amount of makes the liver expand like a balloon. cane and corn farmers, and industry giants Coca-Cola,
When the liver is filled to maximum, excess Pepsi-Cola and General Foods— or ‘Big Sugar’ are
glycogen returns to the blood in the form of fatty trying to block the WHO report: Diet, Nutrition and the
acids. These are taken to every part of the body Prevention of Chronic Diseases report. They have
and stored in the most inactive areas: the belly, threatened to lobby US Congress to cut off the $406
the buttocks, the breasts and the thighs. million it sanctions annually to the WHO, and is about
Once these are completely filled, fatty acids one-fourth of it’s budget. They are also trying to
invade active organs like the heart and kidneys. armtwist developing countries to back them. Many are
These begin to slow down; finally their tissues already indirectly backing the US sugar lobby.
degenerate and turn to fat. Sugar Association president Andrew Briscoe said in
This can lead to obesity, diabetes and even an April 14 letter to the WHO's director-general Gro
certain cardiovascular diseases. Brundtl, “We will exercise every avenue available to
expose the dubious nature of the report.”
Eat less sugar, right? According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a
No, it’s not as simple as that. Today, almost non-partisan, non-profit research group based in
everything you eat has sugar inside it. From soups Washington, DC that tracks money in politics and its
to sauces to frozen meat. Some breakfast cereals effect on elections and public policy, last year the sugar
for children are as much as 50% sugar! In industry donated more than $3 million to American
America a flue-cured tobacco was found to have federal elections.
20% sugar by weight. Also, Congress maintains a sugar-support program
Indians had better take note. 25 percent of that guarantees domestic sugar producers a minimum
males and 36 percent of females above the age price by restricting sugar imports and buying and
of 20 years in India are overweight. Our country storing excess production, as it does with other farm
has always had great sugar surplus (a closing programs. According to the General Accounting Office
balance of 109 lakh tonnes of sugar at the (GAO), the program costs Americans $2 bil-
beginning of the 2002-03 season, enough for lion annually in inflated sugar prices, and
seven months). In the era of liberalisation, storing excess sugar will cost another
consumption of soft drinks, fast food and $2 billion over 10 years.
processed foods are on the rise. As we get richer, (Health Freedom Nutrition)
we also are getting fatter — and unhealthier.
Most of the sugar is consumed invisibly in the
form of fast foods and soft drinks.
Gobar Times, May 15, 2004, Down To Earth supplement 67
“Our ancestors had to
expend a lot of energy just
to get through the day…
But now (in many places)
food is always available,
and technology has made
it easy to be sedentary. So
it's really the environment
that's causing the
—James Hill, Centre for Human
Nutrition, University of Colorado
Health Sciences Centre
The interests of agribusiness and fast food are now merging with media
and entertainment industries. Food is pre-packaged family entertainment.
hat does food mean to children of the America’s Center for
TV watching generation? Enjoyment? Disease Control and
Entertainment? If one looked at all Prevention found 15 per-
those TV commercials, then one could be for- cent of children between 6
given for thinking that junk foods lead to excit- and 19 to be overweight,
ing, strong and brainy kids. TV, newspapers, thrice the proportion 20
magazines billboards all point in that direction. years ago. And a WHO-
Fast food giants spend tonnes of money and backed survey of Delhi public
make sure that they perpetuate a lifestyle that schools found that 53 per cent chil-
suits their pockets even at the cost of making dren aged 10-14 eat junk food on a daily basis.
millions of people fat. McDonald's, in a single In fact, the WHO calls childhood obesity a
year, spent about $500 million on TV advertise- global epidemic that is spreading into the devel-
ments alone. oping world. In fact, it is catching up with smok-
The truth is frighteningly different. As ing as the leading cause of illness and death.
teenagers consume more and more colas and
burgers, the number of those becoming obese is Food Industry = Entertainment Industry
alarming. While America leads the pack in Sports, entertainment, news, fast food and
teenage obesity, India doesn’t lag far behind. movies have become barely indistinguishable.
68 Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement
According to Public Health Reports, “advertising, affected. Studies consistently report a higher
pricing and packaging, and availability all encour- prevalence of obesity in African Americans and
age Americans to eat more food, not less. The Mexican Americans compared with the white,
design of neighbourhoods promotes using motor non-Hispanic population. In the National Health
vehicles rather than walking.” and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
Environmental risk factors that may influence 1999-2000, 23.6% of non-Hispanic blacks and
our everyday behaviours include increased expo-
sure to high-calories fast foods, "junk" foods,
and refined sugars. Low-income families Fast food giants like McDonald’s fight hard
must often depend on smaller stores that have a to retain hundreds of millions of dollars of
limited selection of fresh foods, often at higher government subsidies for "training" their
cost. Supermarkets have two times the amount workers. A worker has only to work for 400
of healthy foods as neighbourhood grocery hours for the chain to receive its $2,400
stores, but there are four times as many super- subsidy. In essence, the American taxpayer
markets in white neighbourhoods than black subsidises low wages, automation, and
neighbourhoods. turnover at fast food chains. Farmers get
That’s pretty getting to be the story of the just 21% of the food dollar in the US, the
world. As teenage obesity is on the rise, it is seen rest goes to corporations.
that rather than preventing them, the environ-
ment and many other factors are actually guiding
children to the path of obesity.
The End of Small Farms
The fast food revolution impacts agriculture and
environment. For example, McDonald's, the fast
food chain is the largest purchaser of beef and
potatoes in America, apart from being the
second largest producer of poultry. It goes
without saying that they influence the policy on
agriculture. So fast food companies are industrial-
ising agriculture and pushing small family farmers
off the map. In fact, since 1980, America has
almost lost one million medium to small-sized
A WHO-backed survey of Delhi public
family farms. Thanks to the industrialisation of
schools revealed that 53 per cent of
agriculture the US is losing farmers so fast that it
children between 10 and 14 years of age
now has more prisoners than farmers.
snack on junk food every day.
The Cheap Food Argument
Another argument which the fast food industry 23.4% of Mexican American adolescents were
throws is that fast food is cheap and it helps the overweight, a startling near-doubling increase
economy. The truth is far from that. The (from 13.4% and 13.8%, respectively) in the
American fast food industry is heavily subsidised past decade. This contrasts markedly with the
and there are steep hidden costs of long-distance prevalence of overweight in non-Hispanic
transportation for other countries. whites of 12.7%.
The rates for obesity are also greater for
Issues of Minority minority children. Over 25 percent of Black and
In America, it was found that when it comes to Hispanic kids are overweight as against the
obesity, minorities are disproportionately national average of 15%.
Gobar Times, May 15, 2004, Down To Earth supplement 69
BAD SWEETS GOOD HEALTH
Sweet Trooth Yeh kya ho raha hai?!
Hi! I’m Sugar Puff
H E A D A C H E S OSTEOPOROSIS W E A K N E S S G A L L S T O N E S
COLD, COUGHS HEART ATTACKS C A V I T I E S D I A B E T E S
papa. I just luuuvvvv
anything that is sugary. “These wretched headaches! Aspirins work no more on
“I’ve got diabetes. So my doctor has told me to stop eating Sweets, pastries, soft me. This definitely can’t be because of sweets.”
drinks....yummy yum. WHAT’S HAPPENING: As you eat more sugar, cells are
WHAT’S HAPPENING: A high dose of sugar introduced into
I thought sugar would just destroyed as a consequence of being robbed of Vitamin B.
the system sends the body into shock from the rapid rise in
kill my teeth and I was Insulin production is inhibited leading to a very high sugar
blood sugar level. The pancreas eventually wears out from
ready to live with that level in the bloodstream. Surveys show that this can lead to a
overwork, leading to diabetes.
but... confused mental state or unsound mind.
“These dentists are millionaires. I’m going to make my “My bones ache all the time. My doctor tells me that I’ve
son a dentist! I thought I’d just have a some cavities, but got osteoporosis.”
I have a full set of false teeth now. And my gums ache WHAT’S HAPPENING: Our blood becomes acidic with the
too.” excess consumption of sugary foods. To balance this, nutrients
WHAT’S HAPPENING: When you eat something, the teeth’s like calcium are borrowed from the bones. High consumption
bacteria breaks down the sugar and secretes chemicals, which of sugar means that this calcium is not replaced. And that
dissolve tooth enamel. Sugar also makes the blood thicker, leads to the long-term deterioration of bones, osteoporosis.
affecting the flow of vital nutrients to teeth and gums.
“My doctor says I’m prone to a heart attack. But I have no
family history of the disease!” “I’m not as strong as I used to be. I guess it’s old age.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING: Sucrose increases blood levels of WHAT’S HAPPENING: High sugar intake also corrupts
cholesterol, insulin and the stress hormone cortisol. All these muscle performance and impedes strength development
increase the risk of heart disease. It is also known to increase dramatically.
“My colds and coughs have become more frequent.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING: Sugar is often called an anti-nutrient “Gallstones from sugar? Not possible!”
as eating more of it leads the body to use up its supplies of WHAT’S HAPPENING: In 1984, the British Medical
potassium, thiamin and chromium. All sugars, even natural Journal reported that refined sugar may be one of the
ones, appear to compete with Vitamin C for transportation into major dietary risk factors in gallstone disease.
white blood cells. Without adequate amounts of Vitamin C, the
immune system becomes severely affected.
70 Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement Gobar Times, May 15, 2004, Down To Earth supplement 71
products as it is cheaper than
Sugar white sugar. It is today present
in numerous products including
soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports
drinks, baked goods, candies,
smacks jams, yogurts, condiments, canned
and packaged foods, and other sweet-
ened foods. Per capita availability was 97.3
pounds for refined sugar and zero for HFCS in
1966, and 64.6 and 62.6 pounds for refined
sugar and HFCS, respectively, in 2001. (USDA)
Sweet Gene: For the past 25 years, scientists
have known that a taste for sweet foods is a trait
with a genetic element, but the actual genes
have been elusive. About a decade ago, progress
was made as scientists determined that a region
of the mouse chromosome 4 called Sac (short for
Origin of Candy: The English word candy was saccharin) was associated with a preference for
adapted from French candi in the Old French sweets. Scientist have now discovered the gene
phrase sucre candi. It was zucchero candi in for sweet tooth. It lies on Human Chromosome 1,
Italian, azucar cande in Spanish, and assùcar is called sweet receptor gene, called T1R3.
candi in Portugese. These words derived from It is the difference in sequence within the sweet-
Arabic sukkar qandi 'candied sugar', meaning taste gene that decides if you have a 'sweet
sugar that has been cooked and forms a tooth' or not.
ball when dropped into cold
water. Arabic got the word Honey: What is both a sweetener and
from Persian qand, which an antiseptic, is the most men-
came from a Sanskrit root tioned food in the Bible, and is
khand 'to break'. The ulti-
the only food manufactured for
mate origin was probably
us by animals? Believe it or not,
the Tamil word kantu 'ball
the answer is honey. Bee keep-
of candied sugar', and that is
related to a word meaning 'ball' or 'lump'. ing for the collection of honey, a
So there you are. Sugar candy came into highly prized food was of great value in
English late in the fourteenth century and was ancient civilisations. It was used as a sedative by
shortened to simple candy sometime in the early Romans and Greeks, by Egyptians to
eighteenth century. embalm their dead. The French believed that
newlyweds were to have drinks containing honey
HFCS: Refined sugar (sucrose) is the predomi- for 30 days following their wedding, and the
nately used sweetener, but its use has been word 'honeymoon' originated from this custom.
replaced over time by HFCS. High fructose corn In ancient times, honey was a source of sugar
syrup (HFCS) is a liquid sweetener used in the and was valued for its medicinal benefits.
manufacture of foods and beverages. In the late Composed of the sugars glucose and fructose it
1960s scientists developed an enzymatic process so contains numerous other types of proteins and
that transforms glucose from corn meal minerals. When a honey bee takes nectar from a
into a mixture of fructose and glucose. HFCS is flower, she stores it in a "honey sack” then
becoming the most preferred sweetener in food returns to the hive, deposits the drop of nectar
72 Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement
into the honeycomb, and evaporates the water J A G G E R Y
out of the nectar by fanning her wings. Once the
The sugar crops in India includes Sugar
honey has aged, wax is used to seal it in the
Cane, Honey, Jaggery (Cane), Jaggery
comb. A honeybee makes 154 trips for one tea- (Coconut Palm), Jaggery (Date Palm),
spoon of honey. A colony produces 60 to 100 Jaggery (Fan Palm) and Jaggery (Sago Palm)
pounds of honey a year. To gather a pound of where the bark of the plant is the main
honey, a bee flies a distance equal to more than source of starch.Gur(vellam in the south) or
three times around the world. It jaggery is a “natural” sweetener made by
takes two million flowers to make the concentration of sugarcane juice. It
one pound of honey. accounts for 50 percent of the sugar eaten in
India. Ancient Medical scriptures mention its
Sugar India: India great nutritive and medicinal value. t is an
has a diversity in energy food that is said to “purify” blood,
the sugar crops regulate the liver function and keep the body
that are grown in healthy. Also a potent source of Iron and a
the country. It is not superior product among natural sweeteners
just sugarcane, that have with regards to the Vitamin contents.
Jaggery from cane sugar or Gur is used in
been used as sweetners over the
chutneys, in sweetened dals and subzis of
years. Apart from Sugar Cane, Honey, Jaggery
the west and eaten with pure ghee and rotis
(Cane), Jaggery (Coconut Palm, Jaggery (Fan
or stuffed, mixed with coconut, into
Palm), and Jaggery (Sago Palm). Jaggery (Date dumplings called ‘modak’, specially made in
Palm) is cultivated as a primary source of sugar Ganesh chaturthi because of the elephant's
throughout Eastern Asia, and India. headed God's alleged fondness for this
How did our ancestors manage?
q Sugar was practically unknown and formed an 100 grams of white 100 grams
granulated sugar of jaggery
insignificant part of the average diet in the
Classical civilisations of Egypt, Greece and Rome. Mineral Salts 30-50mg 2850mg
In fact the Greeks (who had a word for nearly Phosphorus 0.25 116
everything!) did not even have a word for it!
Calcium 14 118
q When Spain drove out the Moors after the
Magnesium 0 136
Crusades, it inherited some of the cane planta-
tions. It was during this time that Christendom Pottasium 4.6 1056
took its first big bite of the forbidden fruit and Iron 0.1 3
q In 510 BC, hungry soldiers of Emperor
Darius discovered some "reeds which pro-
duce honey without bees" near the river
Indus. The reads they had discovered were
sugar cane. But they did no carry it with
them for growing in their native land.
q In England in 1226 AD, Henry III had
trouble finding 3 pounds of sugar for a
banquet, but by 1259 AD, the commodity
was more readily available, at a price of 16
1/2 pence per pound.
Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement 73
Tell me why? A great sugary snack feels
heavenly but can you eat just one cookie, or do you keep eat-
ing “just one more” till the whole bar has gone? Your body
converts the carbohydrate in your diet into the fuel (glucose).
Your muscles and brain require glucose for energy. Your brain
depends exclusively on a steady supply of glucose from the
blood. That’s how blood sugar level affects your mood and
craving for more carbohydrate. So you eat perhaps
another sugary snack. Up goes your calorie intake, up
goes your weight, and you have set yourself up for
Sugar Craving! more cravings in a few more hours time.
1. You eat a large sugary snack. A high carbohydrate
(usually sugar diet). Long term: People then become reliant on this
2. Food enters your liver and it breaks down into carbohydrate cravings to feel better. This tendency to
Glucose. use certain foods as though they were drugs is a
3. Glucose enters the bloodstream rapidly frequent cause of weight gain.
and Increases the blood sugar level.
4. High Blood sugar level leads to release of Sugars in your Food
insulin from the pancreas. Simple carbohydrates (sugars) are made
5. Insulin then aids in the uptake of Glucose up of one or two sugar molecules and include nat-
& amino acids into muscle and leaves trypto- urally as well as the more processed sugars like table
phan (an amino acid) circulating in the blood. sugar. They are easily converted to blood glucose in
6. Tryptophan crosses the blood-brain barrier region the liver and can enter the bloodstream very soon
and easily enters the brain to be transformed to after being eaten. This rapidly rises your blood sugar
7. The increase in serotonin release by the dietary
creates a good mood. Complex carbohydrates (whole grains) are long
chains of sugar molecules. They are digested more
Short term: two hours later the blood sugar level can slowly than simple sugars resulting glucose from their
fall too low, because there is no further glucose enter- digestion is released at a slower rate into the blood
ing the blood. So the body tries by various means to stream resulting in a steadier level of blood glucose.
bring the blood sugar level back up again. It creates a
Diabetes 1. Sugar cravings increase
the high calorie diet and
TYPE 1: DIABETES TYPE 2: DIABETES
Without insulin, liver Liver is resistant to G = Glucose cause obesity.
G = Glucose effects of insulin.
won’t accept glucose,
but releases glucose I = Insulin
I = Insulin
2. High sugar diet causes the
liver to promote fat deposi-
Insulin leaves tion.
pancreas and enters
bloodstream 3. High insulin in the blood-
Liver Glucose enters
bloodstream Glucose enters
bloodstream stream causes more fat
Stomach Bloodstream deposition.
Cells are resistant Small intestine 4. Muscle: Due to excess
to insulin. Very
glucose there is continuous
fat accumulation which is
Body cell aggravated by the sedentary
Insulin Deficient Insulin Resistance lifestyle.
74 Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement
Complete the OSEs!
O S E Primary form of sugar used for ENERGY 1
2 O S E The sweetest naturally occurring sugar
O S E found in sugar cane and sugar beets
4 O S E A sugar product of fermentation. It is commonly called
“malt sugar”. Beer and breads often contain it.
O S E is the major carbohydrate sugar found in milk and the
primary source of energy in infants.
O S E A glucose polymer found in cell wall of plants.
6 Constitutes 50% of wood and 100% of cotton.
O S E A type of sugar found in every living cell.
O S E It is converted to sugar alcohol that is widely used in gum, soft
8 candy, breakfast cereals, frosting, and in many
diet foods labelled as sugar-free. It has only half the calories of
glucose but has 70% of the sweetness of table sugar.
O S E is a component of the milk sugar. Before the body can utilise
it for energy, it must first be transformed into glucose by the liver.
10 O S E A type of starch that constitutes 15-30%
of total starch in most plants
Answers:1. Glucose 2.Fructose 3.Sucrose 4. maltose 5.Lactose 6.Cellulose 7.Ribose 8.Mannose 9.Galactose 10.Amylose
Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement 75
Only looks matter!
Ms Rice India: Long, thin and shiny
We thank Gobar Times readers for the overwhelming
response we received to our Rice issue (January 2004). So
many rice reporters out there! Here are some excerpts of the entries
we received. All participating teams should look out for their surprise gifts.
Appearances must impress traditional varieties, the profit from both was
more or less the same!
Today the demand is for thin long and white That’s because HY cultivation costs more in
grains of rice, even if they have less nutritional terms of chemical fertiliser usage. So, the children
value. That is why the traditional varieties of rice managed to convince 12 farmers to use cow
grown in Nagpur’s Ramtek, Moudha and dung compost instead of chemical fertiliser in
Kamptee are no longer cultivated. order to maximise their profits.
Popular varieties like HMT and BPT have been
around for only 15 years. They require plenty of Cheap, best and... unpopular!
water and therefore are cultivated only once a
year during the rainy season. Gujarat’s “kada” is the “cheap and best” rice
A traditional rice variety called patelteen was variety and very popular with workers. It’s nutri-
brought from Gujarat by local farmers. The name tious, easily digestible and is sweet in taste
“Patel” was used since it’s a Gujarati surname. and smells good after cooking. It is grown by
The HMT variety comes from this. tribal farmers and can be grown under drought
A variety which lost out because it wasn’t conditions and in saline water.
good-looking was the swarna. It was fattish and There is a local saying “Kada sabse bada”
yellow in colour. This and the “1001” lost out,
because they couldn’t be “polished”. (Polished
rice means the removal of not only the bran, but GT Rice Reporters
also two layers of rice in the mill to make it
q Class 4-10 students and teachers of the Ecology and
thinner, bringing the nutritional value to “zero”).
Natural Resources Education network have been
conducting several rice surveys in West Bengal.
Jacinthia Mascarenhas, Nagpur, Maharashtra
q Class 8-9 students from the Cardnal Pimenta
Adivasi High School in Thane and Gnanmata
Convincing organic economics Sadan Society surveyed 50 varieties of rice.
q Class 11 students of Don Bosco Higher Secondary
Students of the Ecology and Natural Resources
School Panaji, Goa studied basmati rice, hybrid rice
Education network in West Bengal compared
and other local varieties of rice in their area.
the economics behind growing high yielding (HY)
and traditional varieties. They were surprised
>> To read these and other full reports, please
to find that though HY varities were more
go to our website www.gobartimes.org
productive and generated more income than the
76 Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement
From birth to death
Rice is an intrinsic part of the culture of the
Warli people of Maharashtra. A handful of rice
is thrown into the joli into which the new born
child is laid. This rice is supposed to be the
source of growth and strength of the child and
the tribe. On death, when a person is laid in
the earth, he is fed a morsel of boiled rice by
his immediate family. A serving of rice is then
wrapped up in sag leaves and placed by his
side, food for the journey.
Even the bull that ploughed the rice field
over the years is fed cooked rice at its death, a
token gesture of gratitude, paying back afor
years of life-giving service.
“This has been a most fruitful
experience, and a great learning Lord, I am going to my parental home,
experience for our children. ‘Rice’ Wait, dear! Wait, dear!
couldn’t have been a more relevant Just let me tie this rice into sheaves,
Then you go to your parental home.
topic for our adivasi children.”
Wendell D’Cruz (Free translation of a song that the Warli women
Gnanmata Sadan Society, Thane, Maharashtra sing as they transplant rice in the fields.)
(kada is the best). However, it’s sad that most varieties of rice and other food crops, not even
farmers don’t grow it because it doesn’t fetch a one person responded.
Dr Ashok Kundapur
Rajubhai Jantrania, Surat, Gujarat Udupi Parisarasaktara Okkuta, Karnataka
Nobody cares for the old The eco-friendly Yerra Sannalu
We are deeply concerned about vanishing The traditional variety of rice known as Yerra
varieties of rice, but there is no ready demand for Sannalu is grown in Andhra Pradesh’s Srikakulam
them. Farmers are falling for high yield varieties. and Vijaynagaram by the Savara tribe.
To create a demand, we thought of appealing to The rice requires mimimum tillage and is
religious heads, to encourage use of classical grown in uplands, requiring no supplemental
varieties of rice along with other cereals and irrigation. No fertilisers are required. It is highly
vegetables. (For example, “Elaichi”, a small drought resistant. It’s straw is used as cattle feed.
variety of banana, also called “Deva Bale” in
South Canara is the preferred one for pujas). MT Naidu
But when we tried to collect data involving Society for Modernisation of Agriculture and
students, merchants and farmers preserving old Rural Technology, Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh
Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement 77
Pay attention to the serving size. It tells you
the amount of food that the nutrient
information given on the label is based on. Food stores are filled with delicious
They are provided in familiar units, such as things. What's in the food you are
cups or pieces, followed by the metric
amount, e.g., the number of grams. It is eating? The food label tells you.
based on the amount of food a person
typically eats. For example, one serving of
Total Fat: Aim low. Most people need to cut back on fat! Too
macaroni and cheese equals one cup. If you
much fat may contribute to a whole list of health problems. Try
ate the entire package, you would eat
to limit your calories from fat. Choose foods with a big
2 cups, which means you would consume
difference between the total number of calories and the
twice the amount of the nutrients listed on
number of calories from fat.
Saturated fat: It is listed separately because it's the key player
in raising blood cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Eat
Cholesterol :A second cousin to fat — can lead to heart
Salt: You call it “salt,” the label calls it “sodium.” Either way,
it may add up to high blood pressure in some people. So,
keep your sodium intake low
Carbohydrates: It has two groups: starches (complex carbo-
hydrates) and sugars (simple carbohydrates). On a food label,
sugars include…brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup,
fructose, fruit juice, concentrate glucose (dextrose), raw
sugar, syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar
maltose, molasses, table sugar (sucrose). A food is likely to be
high in sugars if one or several of the above items appears
first or second in the ingredients list. GOOD: Less than
10g per 100g. HEALTHIEST: Less than 2g per 100g.
Fibre: It aids digestion and helps fight some diseases.
Look for products with high fibre
Vitamins and Minerals: Get enough of these
nutrients as these can improve your health and boost
your immune system to fight diseases.
Calories: They are a measure of how much energy you get
from food. Calories come from three sources: fat, protein, and
carbohydrate.Too many of this can cause overweight
problems. The units of calorie intake is usually in kilocalories
(kcal). One gram of fat gives 9.5 kcal when consumed.
Similarly, carbohydrates yield 4.2 kcal/gram and proteins yield
about 4.1 kcal/gram.
Protein: Protein listed on a nutrition label only refers to the
amount of complete proteins in the food. They are the building
blocks of our body. Get more of these.
78 Gobar Times, May 15, 2004 Down To Earth supplement
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