The future of food – Feb 2022

Our Yoga Retreat (YR) is coming up soon and it’s going to be fabulous and its full. Yes, there will be no room at the inn for any last minute bookings as every bed is taken up. Yoga retreats aren’t just about yoga, they also mean heaps of divine Ayurvedic food. Vegan plant- based meals with an addition of vegetarian desserts. And many students think they might get hungry as there is no animal protein on offer. They might find all those plants hard to digest (so much fibre) and a whole weekend eating plant based dishes would be boring, right? No, wrong on all fronts. Plant based cooking, using pulses and nuts for protein and prepared correctly (soaked and activated  to remove the phytates) are really easy to digest, filling, nourishing and very steady on your blood sugar so you don’t get crazy highs and lows of energy.

There aren’t many world cuisines that can compete with the array of spices used in Indian cooking. Spices ranging from the well-known turmeric, ginger, cumin and coriander to the unusual and deliciously pungent asafoetida, curry leaves, fenugreek, Kashmiri paprika and spicy black mustard seeds. Each mouthful is layered with smells and tastes that satisfy all your gourmand desires. Ayurvedic food is also about matching the cuisine to the season, to the locality of the produce and the time of day. Warming foods for breakfast, lighter lunches because of yoga and any icy desserts are strictly a midday treat while the digestive fire in your gut is at its strongest.

Sourcing exotic legumes for the different dahls used to be an issue, particularly since the original Indian growers of these pulses have been exploited by the agricultural multinationals to overuse pesticides and herbicides to such a degree that they are left with farms that can no longer grow crops. Now most of the lentils and pulses consumed in India are imported from Australia and Canada, who have stricter controls on pesticide use. Our YR pulses are grown Horsham, Victoria.

Environmental scientists like Vandana Shiva have highlighted this crisis in India and her NGO promotes biodiversity conservation and the process of seed saving and is anti GMO technology.  The implementation of BT cotton (a genetically modified pest resistant plant cotton variety) in India in 2002 was initially a success, but within a few years these tiny farms were dependent on having to buy fresh GM seeds each year and had to use higher and higher quantities of fertiliser, pesticides and water. The low-yield BT cotton crop resulted in many farmers committing suicide and their widows lost the land and were left penniless. Shiva’s NGO runs programs to help the farmers detoxify their soils and practice regenerative agriculture. All part of a global movement, helping create a healthy, sustainable future for food growing.  

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