Food is essential for growth. Every living being on earth is dependent on nutritious food in order to lead a healthy life. If you don’t have food, you go hungry and this eventually leads to death. But is just food good enough? Can we just eat anything that we can chew and digest? The answer, unfortunately, is no because the food that we consume has to have benefits for a prolonged and wholesome life.
In today’s chaotic world we want the best of food but we’re often not aware of the side effects. In order to produce more food in a short period, chemicals are used extensively. Food processing units use preservatives, emulsifiers and artificial flavours and this is gradually deteriorating our lives and is harmful in the long run. Conventional farming has negative effects on the environment as more pesticides and chemicals are used to increase production for personal gains which in turn contaminates soil, freshwater sources and groundwater.
What’s the alternative? Of course, organically grown and unprocessed food. Organic products restrict the use of certain chemicals and fertilizers that are harmful to the body. Their impact on the environment is minimal. Producing vegetables and fruits in your backyard saves you the costs and helps keep you healthy. Procuring organic food from your local farmer also ensures the direct benefits go to the farmers as opposed to a middleman.
In 1995 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) defined organic agriculture as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” Organic production uses “materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole,” though such practices “cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues” of pesticides, herbicides, and other additives or contaminants. However, “methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil, and water. Organic food handlers, processors, and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people” (NOSB).
Auroville, an international township in the south of India, supports and encourages the practice of self-sustenance and organic farming. The workshops conducted here teach young minds and public at large to understand the process so that they in turn can educate people about the importance of naturally produced food. For some, farming is a great hobby too. With every passing day, more people are making efforts to take on this challenge and make it a natural way of life in communities and villages.
With the vision of achieving self-sufficiency in food production, Auroville farmers have been facing a daunting task of working with topsoil that is depleting and a receding water table. Aurovilians are constantly exploring different irrigation techniques, cultivating non-hybrid seeds, and using organic methods.
Farms such as Solitude Farm, Sustenance Farm, Buddha Garden and Windarra at Auroville continue to produce organic food. Buddha Garden has been collecting seeds for some years now. A sustainable farm needs a sustainable supply of seeds, water and nutrients. Seeds that are grown and saved on the farm develop characteristics that enable them to grow even better in the particular environment where the farm is situated. Buddha Garden’s effort is a step forward to making sustainability an integral part of farm production.
Composting is another component that is a common practice at most farms. It is a natural fertilizer which helps increase yield and is made from decayed organic waste and it doesn’t have any harmful or non-biodegradable content. Composting is the biological process of breaking down organic material into a humus-like product and at Buddha Garden composting is an important way of recycling organic waste.
We often hear “Health is Wealth”, so let’s eat healthy and stay healthy in order to lead a happy life.