Learning from Healthy grandmothers: from fast food to fasting foods

When did we last study the lifestyle, food habits, way of thinking and behaving and living of those grandmothers who have never gone to a hospital in their entire life of 70-90 years? Why do we always draw lessons for health by studying the problems of sick people? Why cannot we learn from those who have not fallen sick ever? Will their attitude to life, love and learning not provide some new insights about coping with the stresses of life and surviving meaningfully and joyfully?


SRISTI is organizing perhaps first such a workshop around the fourth International conference of creativity and Innovation at grassroots, Jan 28-30, 2019 at Grambharati, Gandhinagar. How else do we discover the merit of extremely affordable solutions for rampant infant malnutrition as well as increasing incidence of chronic diseases and infirmities? Health is not just absence of sickness. It is as much about well-being, well-thinking and well-doing.

Let us identify hotspots of healthy communities all over the country in different agro and socio-ecological regions. Having identified such hotspots, let us isolate the factors which have helped such communities live healthily. Maybe the spoil is healthy and thus food grown there is rich in minerals needed for health. Maybe food is combined with healthy lifestyle. It is possible there are wild edible plants grow there which help communities ward of fa lot of infections and other diseases. Stinging nettle is one such plant found abundantly in many hilly areas of India. It is detoxifier and diuretic and also helps in so many other indications. Pregnant mothers will be helped by it so also lactating mothers. It helps overcome arthritic pain, strengthens bones and keep heart healthy. Naturally, people can eat it as a vegetable and enjoy the taste and forget the rest. In any case, medical advice must be taken before using such plants for therapeutic purposes. As a functional food, they are heathy but still in special cases, it is useful to consult dieticians.

I have green amaranthus  in my garden and use it as an amendment to dalia or khichadi which not only enhances the taste but also nutrition. So easy to grow, no inputs are required except a little water. It is Navratri time and many of the readers must be easting fasting foods.

Let us move from Fast food to fasting food, another grandmother’s advice. Take the case of buckwheat  (kuttu) which is high energy and with a very balanced mix of amino acids particularly lysine found often limiting in other grains. It is super rich in copper and has high magnesium.

About 100 g of Water chestnut (singhara) may meet only ten per cent of the daily requirement of some of the major mineral and vitamin daily requirement but has several compounds such as puchin improving immune function, hydrocinnamic acids, and numerous other compounds which make it a very useful functional food.

So also samo rice like barnyard millet, is extremely useful fasting food and can easily replace fast foods of today. It has four times more minerals and eight times more iron than  wheat.

Now, when I am suggesting learning from grandmothers, I have just touched a fraction of the knowledge that we have got from them. A great deal of knowledge remains to be tapped. You will meet many of such mines of wisdom at Sattvik: traditional food festival ( Dec 22-25, 2018) which promotes conservation of agrobiodiversity and organic food by harnessing urban consumer demand. Should we not bring such foods in the mid-day meal scheme and also in Anganwadi food supply?

Would u not like to now to contribute to the Honey Bee Network and volunteer in different activities and campaign or even donate time of other resources for the purpose?


Visiting Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad & IIT Bombay and an independent thinker, activist for the cause of creative communities and individuals at grassroots, tech institutions and any other walk of life committed to make this world a more creative, compassionate and collaborative place