Trekking in the remote Himalayas may seem no more than an adventure activity that burns off tons of calories, but for me, it’s a journey that drives home the philosophy of simplicity, or ‘eat local, think global’.
I just got back from Jolingkong, at the base of Adi-Kailash mountain in Kumaon, right on the Indo-Tibetan border, where I stayed in the wood-and-stone village of Kuti for a couple of nights, mainly to acclimatise to the high altitude.
It is here that I tasted the same rotis that sage Vyas, who authored the Mahabharata and lent the valley his name, ate every single day, centuries ago. Made out of kuttu ka atta (buckwheat flour), they were not only rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, fibre, essential fatty acids and Vitamin B, but were also flavourful. I ate them with curd that had a tadka of jeera, and local greens similar to mustard leaves. It is pretty much this food which nourished the sage, who is revered for his understanding of not just the Vedas, but warfare, geography, ethics and politics.
Little wonder then that men with real insights have the wisdom to eat simple, local food. Kuttu ka atta has all the nutrients to keep the brain sharp, joints lubricated and skin protected from dryness and sun damage. Also, the phytonutrients in kuttu strengthen arteries and lower blood pressure, thus aiding acclimatisation.
There’s a reason why local food is better than its exotic avatar: it helps you cope with local environmental challenges, be it altitude, heat, cold or humidity. So take a leaf out of rishi Vyas’s book and go back to eating local.