By Jamuna Rangachari
It is now easy to find organic products, at a sunday market, organised by Kavita Mukhi in Mumbai
When I step inside a garden just off Linking Road, a busy area in Bandra, on Sunday, I almost have to pinch myself that I am indeed in the heart of the city. The farmers themselves lovingly stack the vegetables and fruits. Most of the customers also take tips on how to treat and store the vegetables and fruits from the farmers directly and vow to give the produce the respect it deserves.
“It is wonderful that we are able to get organic fruits and vegetables in Mumbai itself,” say the regular customers who have marked every Sunday morning for vegetable and fruits shopping. In fact, many of them buy for friends and extended family. When asked if the effort is worth it, they unanimously reply, “Of course,” and swear by the energising effect the juices and food have brought into their lives.
As one looks around, one sees customers jostling with each other to survey the various stalls. With a range of organic products, soaps, agarbattis, mats, and even garments displayed in various stalls, the interested parties are spoilt for choice.
“Wow, my child never drinks so much milk,” says a toddler’s mom, amazed at the effortless pleasure her child had in drinking the milk offered by Govinda, an organic farm from Satara. “Well, it is organic, madam. No chemicals have been fed or injected in the cow. Our cows are left free to graze, and are milked in the traditional way,” is the proud reply.
Many young mothers happily let the children explore the stalls. “Do you actually see all these strawberries when they are still budding,” asks a young child, happy to get gyan on farming from the man who actually sowed the seeds.
“I would never miss being here,” says Aravinda, a volunteer from Govandi, who helps every week, and is quite ecstatic at organic produce fresh from the farm being actually available within city limits. “Isn’t it wonderful to be able to eat carrots and beets without even peeling them?” she asks.
Stalls offering snacks like organic bhel, and even pizzas, have a stream of takers, with many people jotting down the recipes.
Kavita Mukhi is the organiser. Her mission was propelled by a deep concern for farming as a way of life. She says, “Our goal is to support the farmers, to help them get the right price for their produce, so that they are able to make a healthy living, and so that the next generation will want to become farmers. We have to encourage other areas in the country to do the same. If we do not support and encourage farmers, they will sell their land and move to cities and there will be no food for our children to eat.”
The farmer has a deep knowledge of the leaves, flowers, fruits, plants, soil, and the rhythms of nature, and we are in danger of losing this knowledge as more farming families turn to the city to escape poverty,” she laments. She has tied up with farmers all over Maharashtra to come to Mumbai on Sunday, and hopes others will do the same all over India.
Though still nascent, the response has been quite gratifying. With products being all sold by afternoon every week, many are sure that this will surely create a movement. The reason is quite clear – the farmers are happy, and satisfied with their earnings sans the middlemen, and the consumers satisfied with organic products sans chemicals.
“Where did you go today, Ma? Was this market really in Mumbai,” my children ask me when I return home with an assortment of rustic products and fresh fruits and vegetables that they savour with relish. “You will see soon enough,” I say, hoping to go with my entire family the next time.
Kavita Mukhi is an eco-nutritionist, lymphologist, and naturalist farmer. She pioneered the awareness of organic foods (Conscious Food) in India in 1990. Website: www.consciousfood.com
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