At the Salvador Do Mundo village Panchayat Hall on International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22: Minister Rohan Khaunte taking in the biodiversity of Goan produce and asking Roland Martins of GoaCan a few questions; mangoes galore from Nestor’s Organic Farm at Satari to appreciate and buy; line-up of organic produce…pretty spicy chilies, root veggies and herbs, turmeric, Surinam cherries are hard to find. Ladies exhibiting special exhibit a whopping soursop; (above) giving away awards to farmers; say `No!’ to plastic straws — Luis D’Souza and Natty Picardo show the way by sipping from eco-friendly rolled banana leaf straws! Niz Goenkar environmentalist Prof Joe D’Souza doing a bit of shopping…there was much more to delight the soul of discerning consumers at the biodiversity exhibition

By Tara Narayan

I’VE been telling myself that the glorious rain is finally here and it’s no time to think of what’s trending by way of food and drink in Bharatdesh. Most folk think this is the season to feast and not fast! It doesn’t occur to us that what we put in our mouth contributes towards the larger tragedies of earth and not to forget our body beautiful… that is why all these international days one after another keep telling us exactly how miserably we will die! That is if we don’t make some serious lifestyle changes in all the ways we can and as in forever after…start today, as soon as possible. Don’t know about you but all the eco talk spooks me.
Especially the international days to do with trending industrial packaged foods and drinks (beverages is a more sophisticated word may be). Most of us know we have to switch over to a more sustainable lifestyle and civilization if we love life and Mother Earth even more.
Every time I go for an International Day for Biological Diversity or World Environment Day or some such day where every speaker reels out facts and figures about our hedonistic lifestyles and where it is taking us….I feel like I’m doing nothing to change my lifestyle and am only hanging around to die like I deserve to die sooner if not later. We have been moving full speed ahead into our so called progress and development of 20th and 21st century.
It’s been in fact full speed ahead for the last hundred or so years into mega industrial revolution, mega capitalistic lifestyles, mega consumerism, mega entertainment, mega this, that and the other…lately I’ve been reading about mega rich peoples’ shaadi which leave mountainous piles of man-made garbage at mountain venues up north India!
Really, I don’t want to read about such mega celebrations and how all kinds of modern-day royalty niche circles live off either taxpayers’ money or money they’ve piled up by hook or crook, or even honourably by dint of hard work. Being in the media I usually make it for all these international environment and biodiversity day functions and at one of these recently I was horrified to learn how close we are to doomsday currently.
Like what will I do tomorrow if the sun doesn’t rise or turns black or vanishes in a flood of incandescent light fall, no blue sky above, only watery darkness below…no trees, no flowers, no fresh fruit and vegetables, no greens, no light, no oxygen, no water …no sleep? How long do you think life will last on the once upon a time good earth? Our first and primary home?
All kinds of frightening messages are making the rounds over social media about how we better return to stone age values voluntarily, choosing intelligently to temper some hardship with some necessary comforts only — and hopefully it will save the unity of diversity of mother earth which we are so proud of.
Funny, ask around and most will say they prefer to continue to live with fatalistic indifference, complacent in thought, word and deed…with maudlin comforting thoughts of you die, I die, we die, so what? We have to die anyway.
THIS brings me to the International Day for Biological Diversity-2019 organised at the very beautiful Village Panchayat Hall at Salvador do Mundo up north Goa. It was organised by the Government of Goa and Goa State Biodiversity Board in association with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and National Biodiversity Authority. The theme this year was “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health” and Minister for Revenue, Information & Technology, Labour & Employment Rohan Khaunte was guest of honour (he spoke of the need “to work together for a better Goa,” etc). A lot of folk were present for the speeches and talks to do with how as an agricultural civilization we are better off because while we need food, we can do without cars (if push comes to shove and when the chips are down on our ruthlessly exploitative civilization).
And the irony is that modern humankind wants to engage with agriculture less and less. On the other hand our software geniuses come up with so much hi fi technology that soon the arrival of 5G will put so much radiation in the air that even our birds, bees, butterflies won’t be able to live on earth. No pollination, no food (real food)…eat plastic food and see what happens to your body.
Along with the speeches to do with how our biodiversity, our food and our health is intricately connected, impacting each other, a brochure was released on the occasion, and there were felicitations and awards were given. Also on exhibition were a whole range of Goa’s agricultural produce — a testimony to how wealthy the state of Goa still is because of minimal industrialization. Indeed, Goa’s tropical climate is a blessing and growing food happens almost naturally here if we just put in some passion-driven effort and work out in all our abandoned fields instead of gyms!
UNABLE to hang around for the xit-kodi Goan lunch I just made a few rounds of the exhibition where local plants, fruit, veggies, cereals, pulses, spices were presented for visitors to ooh and aah over, may be buy a few things (sorry, a friend with me bought a soursop for 150 and I think this is not on, first we say a fruit is anti-cancer and then we hike the fruit’s price sky high! Let me say it here and not for the last time — all fruit and veggies, especially those organically cultivated, are inherently anti-cancer. So please don’t go around buying these idiotic stories of any one single item number curing cancer…hey, eat more fresh coconut, that’s also anti-cancer, okay. FINALLY on my way out I bought some mankurad mangoes from the wonderland of mangoes which farmer Nestor Rangel had put out on exhibit and sale. I’m sure he has the largest number of mango trees and he is my face of agriculture in Goa today). The mangoes were all organically cultivated and absolutely super mankurad (300 a dozen), these days Nestor is excited about his Cardoza mankurad grafted mango trees bearing superlative fruit, and assures me “I know only one family with this original Cardoza mankurad and got several grafts from there, this is a table mango, so need to turn it into mango ras — best cut and eaten!”
I actually prefer this Cardoza mankurad to the usual mankurad and presume that’s some kind of sacrilege. He also had pairi, neelam, bishop, totapuri, maya, kesari and several other varieties of mangoes and the last time I spoke to him, he said, “the rain has arrived but I still have 10,000 mangoes to harvest, maybe I’ll have to turn them into mango jam now!” Mango jam is mangada in Konkani. What a lovely sounding word!
Nestor hosted a pre-monsoon Ambeachem Fest out on his farm some time back and I was really sorry to have missed it. Farm visits are always much prized adventures in my otherwise dull life! Nestor Rangel is really my idea and face of a modern, educated, sensitive to mother earth and extremely hardworking farmer. Life may or may be not be a rose garden for farmers in Goa, but he is on his way to being one of Goa’s successful farmers the hard way and more importantly, the right way — he uses no chemical fertilizers on his farm lands. He also believes in the right of other animals to live in harmony with humankind and, in fact, “I think we human beings are the vermin around!” Hey, a farming man after my own heart but more about him another time.
In the meantime, it is monsoon time. Think of growing your own kitchen garden — or go away to an Ayurveda retreat for a panchakarma detox! Need not be an ultra five-star affair. Devaaya is right here on Divar Island and I believe it is offering very tempting monsoon treatment packages — their Ayurveda therapies come well-prescribed, not to forget their very flavourful vegetarian meals. Monsoon time is traditionally the time to give body beautiful a holiday, okay. Not eat, drink and be merry as in the usual sense we understand it, but as in drink and eat less kachrapati — and help your body beautiful to take pride in itself from the inside out. At least that’s what I like to say here.

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