Food Travails - beginnings

This is a blog about the politics of food. This interest began when i read a couple of books by Eric Schlosser,Michael Pollan and Rachel Carson . Their focii were:

1. Analysis of Dept of Agriculture policies and their effect on what ends up on our table
2. The food chain in processed food
3. The food chain in the journey of raw food from the field to the table.

Eric Schlossers account of how the production and processing of food by the Fast Food Industry in America with particular emphasis on Mac Donalds was both,"funny and terrifying". As the blurb went, "You are what you eat. But do you really know what you’re eating? ". Thats when i started looking at what i was eating.

On the other hand was Botany of Desire, a seductive lament to the way the apple was( and tulip, marijuana and potato) and is. This book opened my eyes to natural foods, and their histories. It is amazing what a hundred years of human attention has done to the apple.

When i went back to India , i really looked around me. There were huge Gulmohur trees(more about them in a different post), natives from Magdascar. Hmm, imagine that. So many foreign trees and plants around me , and i just did not know. Natural history in India is as much a melting pot as its cultures. What is the quality of nature in India and our attitudes towards it?

When i ate my food from the thali (Hindi word for food plate) , I asked- now where did this come from? What fields, what waters, how did it grow? Was it processed? How was it processed?

For India, I found some answers in KT Achaya, Ramachandra Guha, Vandana Shiva. But this is a blog of a journey just begun. I would love to hear your comments / opinions and about similiar works on India.

1. Eric Schlosser "Fast Food Nation"
2. Michael Pollan "Botany of Desire"
His blog on the NYT site is also awesome, however might be restricted access to members.
3. Rachel Carson : Silent Spring

Iam expanding on the Indian authors assuming that you know/ have access to the Western authors.

One example of food studies in India is KT Achaya's oft referred and seminal work, Indian food :a historical companion deals with the prevalent crop patterns in India until today, traces the introduction of various species like the Potato and Red Chilli in India, and traces the history of foods still current. What it does not deal with are the politics and the ecology of food in India.

Vandana Shiva : Now India has always focussed on agricultural policies, filling the nations granaries has been a preoccupation for long. Vandana Shiva's analysis of the role of the World Bank in Indias green revolution in the 60's, Dam preoccupations, and pesticide use in India is great. Some of this information , specially on pesticides(with particular focus on pesticides in softdrinks) can be found on the CSE( Center for Science and Environment website).

Mr.Ramachandra Guha (This Fissured land, An Ecological History of India and Ecology and Equity) gives the best possible introduction to Ecology, Environment and their history in India , his focus is rather broad and does not include particularities on either pesiticide - use and impact or foods.


Rajani said...

hi its me again... I always love to see early blogs to see how it all started! Just wanted to tell you that the first film I made was on India's food security and that's when I first met Vandana Shiva as well. do check out www.elephantcorridor.org when you have the time.