Ghee! It’s one of the many miraculous foods that our civilisation had “invented” to add to the taste or satiety value of our meals. Further studies over centuries in real-life situations, and not ‘controlled lab conditions’, led to ghee being “identified” for its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and “isolated” as treatment against lifestyle disorders like diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, osteoporosis etc. This research called for some ever-continuing experiments; results had to be recorded in real time, documentation was oral, and the only way to “subscribe” to this documentation was to listen. Listen to mother, grandmother or whoever was in charge of these experiments at home. Such were our age-old traditions.
Then came research which conducted tests on mice and extrapolated the findings on human beings. Or at times conducted tests on a handful of humans, in controlled conditions, for few weeks at a time and projected the findings as relevant to people in real life. Most of these led to new food products being launched at the end of the study. Unlike the living tradition, it didn’t tell you what to do with your existing food habits, how to tweak them to reap benefits of good taste and good health. It didn’t put you in control; it didn’t tell you that real wisdom lies in your kitchen, in your hands. Instead it knocked down your native food and traditional eating habits as fattening, and asked you to give up your time-tested, genetically compliant food beliefs. So in came the refined vegetable oils or oil squeezed out of bran/fibre and such things, in beautifully packed bottles, with labels like “heart-healthy”, “vitamin-enriched”, “cholesterol-absorbing” and other misleading statements, not backed by any regulatory body. And just like that, the food of Gods, Ghee, was deemed ‘fattening’. A 5,000-year-old wisdom wiped out.
(Rujuta Diwekar is working on her video-book on Indian food wisdom)
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