World Sustainable Gastronomy Day is celebrated on June 18.
The word “gastronomy” refers to the art and knowledge involved in preparing and eating food and it is often associated with local products and cuisine. Food production is an essential part of this process which can be informed by traditional local knowledge.
In celebration of this day, we highlight the work of our community in India. They share their concept of food production as much more than a set of techniques; instead, it is a way of looking at and understanding the environment.
Citizens of the planet are reeling under the climate crisis due, for a large part, to our current agricultural practices. As an effective solution, Jeeva Bhavana – an environmental NGO based in Pune, India – has initiated a farmers’ empowerment program, Urvarasa.
Urvarasa, which means procuring fertile soil in Sanskrit, is a grassroots movement that seeks to mitigate the effects of climate change while putting an end to the current intensive and exploitative farming system in India, by assisting farmers in their transition to ethical, natural, plant-based farming practices and creating a committed consumer base to support those forward-thinking farmers.
One of the pillars of Urvarasa is establishing a food forest on the farmer’s land. A food forest not only provides the farmer with a perennial source of food and income; it is also an essential element of a well-balanced ecosystem and biodiversity. Much more than crops, trees provide natural habitats for animals, birds, and insects that in turn help build fertile soil and balanced nutritional exchange on the farm. Trees also sequester carbon from the atmosphere and lead it into the soil. They hold water and raise groundwater levels. The foliage from the trees acts as a mulch, continuously covering the soil and creating a conducive habitat for the worms and insects that add nutrients to the soil. This allows farmers to avoid using expensive, synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers that are the main culprits for polluting our precious natural resources – soil, air, and water.
An Urvarasa farmer respects the animals on his farm and allows them to live their natural lifespan without exploitation or abuse. Animals are not bred artificially or used for their products like meat, milk, or leather; however, by-products, like urine and dung, can undoubtedly be used for soil fertility. Allowing the natural existence of animals on the farm is an effective way to keep a check on the rampant growth of livestock in our country and the increasing methane emissions produced by livestock. Urvarasa aims to re-establish harmonious and symbiotic relationships among the multitude of species in the living world.
A natural farming system is rewarding because it empowers both the farmer and the citizens. The farmer grows food using a practice that causes the least harm to himself, his farm, the animals, and the planet. At the same time, the consumer gets easy access to naturally grown, nutrient-dense food that helps them take control of their life, thus creating a win-win situation for planet Earth, humans, and animals.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment below.
See below some pictures of our friends at Urvarasa, Jeeva Bhavana, in India.