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Story Behind Desh Se 

There is the saying, "You are what you eat". Today, many people wonder - why eat poisons and toxins if you don't have to? While the issue is large, raises a lot of exclamations and evokes a multitude of opinions, one opinion seems overwhelming – there may be long-term impacts, which need a thought. And there seems to be a convergence of thought on a reality to begin with – whatever is instant poison for insects and pests in the farmer’s field (in the form of chemicals, insecticides or pesticides) may well be a slow poison for us if traces of the same find their way into the foods that we consume. I learnt it by chance, a chance that sowed the seeds for of ‘Desh Se’.

It was in December of 2009 that I was driving with family to Kutchesar in UP for a weekend holiday. En-route, as we got off the NH24 and were skirting a small village, we chanced upon a small crusher where jaggery was getting produced, live! Wanting to show the process to our kids and to buy the jaggery from the source, we stopped immediately. All bubbly and inquisitive, we walked across to the farmer to talk and to buy. Mahaveer (the farmer), fortunately, was equally happy to receive us and was extremely courteous and warm on the chilly winter morning. He not only treated us to some truly mouth watering cane juice – fresh, clean and at source, he also spent good time explaining nuances and enlightening us with information he proudly had more of. The whole experience was absolutely outstanding for the children as they went through the complete process in great detail. In the process, we had our own bit of learning as well.   Mahaveer enlightened us that jaggery produced by him was essentially of two types – one that he consumed at home and the other that he sold to “cities”. Voila!! As per him, chemicals needed to be added to the produce that was sold to “cities” for two reasons – to improve texture and to increase shelf life. And, at the same time, his family proudly consumed the “healthier”, chemical free variety. Needless to say, the explanation was unnerving enough to ask a few more questions about his lifestyle and his agriculture. To our utter surprise at the time, and along the lines of his explanation on the difference in jaggery, he walked us to a piece of land where he produced what his family consumed at home. This was an “organic” piece of land and all inputs; process and produce were actually free of all forms of chemicals, pesticides and insecticides. And he had a separate land holding where he produced for commercial reasons. This is where he used all current “ways” of agriculture. By his own admission, the produce from these “non-organic” fields was deemed unfit for consumption by his own family! In a village, far away from the city, there we were standing in fields talking to a man who knew that he was taking good care of his own family and was feeding them good food. He was a man who was proud that he was doing it better than his friends in the cities!

Not only did the experience show us an “un-fogged” mirror of where we stood, it inspired us to make the change – a change to eating organic that was free of chemicals, pesticides and insecticides. Do we feel proud today? We absolutely do! To be honest, it was the man back in the village who showed us the way! And this is where seeds of Desh Se were sown.