START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Take a ‘Fresh’ Leaf Out of India’s Book!

Take a ‘Fresh’ Leaf Out of India’s Book!

A Surprising Health Secret From India

India, as the world knows,  is a nation of staggering numbers. In the apartment complex where I live, the lanes are about as wide as flutes—that’s because this neighbourhood was built more than two decades ago, when Delhi’s biggest vehicle used to be a Maruti Suzuki 800, fondly called ‘the soapdish’ for its petite size. Nobody anticipated the leaps and bounds by which our economy would grow!

Today, the picture is dramatically different. In this cluster of 1000+ homes, almost every household owns three to four cars—hatchbacks, sedans and SUVs. They don’t even make the Maruti 800 any more! Which means that when I climb down my top floor apartment and walk up to the milk booth—just about half a kilometre away—I am often stuck in a traffic jam! And that’s when I’m on foot.

Now while all this prosperity is very welcome, the truth remains that you always lose something to gain something, and that big something for us has been the simplicity of life. To be able to make this much money, millions of people are now running and rushing through their day—indeed their lives.

In simpler times, not absurdly long ago, most families—at least in Delhi and its neighbouring areas—used to buy field-fresh wheat grains, meticulously dry them out on jute cots, and then lug them to the nearby miller who would pound them into real, hearty whole wheat flour.

Today, most of us simply grab flour packets that sit on supermarket shelves on our way home from a long tiring day.

And yet. And this is such a happy yet, I think!

Buying packaged flour is one of the few concessions we have made to modernity. Indians still don’t enjoy packaged, frozen, ‘ready-to-eat’ foods. We have, for centuries, been so accustomed to eating our meals freshly cooked, that we cannot bring ourselves to succumb to the convenience of something that has been sitting inside a packet or can for who-knows-how-long. No, even the knowledge that care has been taken to  maintain freshness until that pack or can is opened. In our minds, it is the whole idea of eating something ‘unfresh’ that won’t be welcomed with open arms—or mouths—any time soon.

So, a certain Mrs. M-who-lives-in-a-faraway-East Delhi-suburb-and-braves-the-hour-long-super-crowded-Metro-commute-to-be-at-work-by-9-am will still wake up at the crack of dawn and chop and cook her vegetables fresh and knead the dough for her chapatis (Indian bread) while brewing tea and getting the kids to wake up and darting into the balcony to water her plants. She will pack these freshly cooked subzi (vegetable) and chapatis for her spouse, children and herself. Even if it is just sandwiches she is packing, the cucumber and tomatoes for the bread will be chopped in the morning. There’s no way she’s going to pack and tuck everything in a foil and shove it into the fridge at night.

This deeply ingrained love of—and yes, even obsession with—fresh, aromatic meals might be just another habit for us in India, but it is, happily, one of the best favors we do for our health!

Ayurveda believes that leftover foods are devoid of ‘prana’ or ‘essential life-giving energy.’ Even if you reheat food that has been sitting in the fridge overnight, it is no longer a source of ‘prana’—the long hours in a cold environment make it more difficult to digest and assimilate. Eating such food regularly can cause undigested matter called ‘ama’ to accumulate in the digestive system, causing weight gain, loss of energy, and in the long run, more serious health problems.

Our great-grannies and grandmas absorbed this advice until it became part of our DNA. It is my belief that in the middle of all the chaos in our lives, this single good habit keeps us going strong. Strong enough to wake up in the morning with enough energy to chop all those onions and potatoes.

And when the aroma of crackling mustard seeds and dancing curry leaves hits your nostrils, how quickly the taste buds come alive, and how readily the digestive juices flow!  Can any frozen/reheated food ever compare?

Related:
Fresh vs. Frozen Vegetables
Making Farm Fresh Food Accessible to All

 

 

Read more: Spirit, Ayurveda, Eating for Health, General Health, Inspiration, Peace, Self-Help, Stress, , , , , , , , , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Shubhra Krishan

Writer, editor and journalist Shubhra Krishan is the author of Essential Ayurveda: What it is and what it can do for you (New World Library, 2003), Radiant Body, Restful Mind: A Woman's book of comfort (New World Library, 2004), and The 9 to 5 Yogi: How to feel like a sage while working like a dog (Hay House India, 2011).

53 comments

+ add your own
5:16PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

Great article, I will have to stop making curry in such big amounts and definitely have to ask my doctor more about this. I am very happy to learn of the lifestyle in India and look to make more of my food fresh the best I can.

7:21PM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

Most info about food is good, The exception is that most Indians do not share the prosperity. As in US, the money is limited to a few rich vultures who buy the politicians to do their bidding like usurping land from the indigenous people.

4:58AM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

I appreciate reading about how things are done in other countries. It's amazing that these working moms would take the full responsibility of making meals before work every day (and after work on the way home). Fresh food is best. However, leftovers are better than pre-packaged food. Throwing out food is wasteful and in the US there's too much wasted food as it is. Maybe some balance is needed...

5:18AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

Really interesting. Thank you.

8:14AM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

interesting, thanks :)

9:42AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Thank you very much for the interesting article. I wish people from other countries would return to natural food, too.

12:21AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

good

7:34PM PDT on Jul 6, 2011

Fresh food is definitely best, but I don't have the time or inclination to shop daily for fresh veg and then begin dinner (there's no point going to the bother of cooking a fresh dinner every day if your fruit & veg have been sitting in the fridge for a week!) My diet is hugely varied, and full of nutrients, so I'm ok with eating homemade frozen dinners most days.

2:04AM PDT on Jun 25, 2011

I really enjoyed this article. Through yoga, I was introduced to Ayurveda & began making changes to my diet. It did not take long at all before I couldn't stand the taste of preservative laden foods. I no longer touch them at all, as it tastes like nasty chemicals to me. No more frozen pizzas for me! If you ever take a moment to look at fast food, etc, you'll notice it's all a colorless shade of beige. Pretty disgusting. Then you have to wonder what it's doing to your body - do our insides turn the same color after years of that crap diet? Give me fresh-from-the-dirt spinach any day with olive oil, some mushrooms, nuts, and spices! Made myself hungry just thinking about it.

11:52AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Ah...wonderful Indian food and thought! Thank you.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Being a caregiver to elders can be challenging, but can also be very rewarding. It's definitely a b…

Thanks, I do add it to smoothies.

One of the claims from Monsanto and the like for needing GMO crops is not enough food to go around a…

Dog must have really missed her.

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.