Even if you have been living under a rock, you cannot have missed all the bad news for foodies (and terrifying news for new parents) that has been circulating in the media lately.
First Maggi, then Nan Pro 3, then Complan, then Haldiram’s, then Mother Dairy milk and Cerelac – everything seems to be contaminated. And then, there are the messages floating in on Facebook and WhatsApp which say that these are not the only brands that one needs to be careful of. Apparently, Proteinex, Horlicks, Bournvita and several other brands of supposedly healthy foods and drinks contain harmful elements. They, apparently, aren’t fit for human consumption. Then, we hear of maida being mixed in asafoetida and in wheat flour, and papaya juice being added to aam ras, and what not.
I am not going to get into the technical details of these news items. Neither am I going to get into a discussion of which of the Facebook and WhatsApp messages are hoaxes and which ones aren’t. I am not talking only about the items that are currently under the scanner and being hotly discussed. This post is about the dangers of contamination, of adulteration, we live with every day.
I have always been wary of consuming things that are packaged, which haven’t been made in front of me. Yes, I am a big-time foodie and I eat out occasionally, something that I have consciously been trying to cut down on. Yes, I eat processed foods like cheese and ketchup and jam, things that, again, I have been seriously trying to reduce and learning to make at home. I gave up on instant meals and carbonated drinks a long, long time ago, but I do have certain indulgences – like chocolate, for instance, or Nutella. The thing is, there is stuff that you just cannot replicate at home, however hard you try. Yes, you can live without these foods, but for a hard-core foodie like me, that would be a bland, dull life.
You cannot make every single thing you use at home, I think. I have heard of people resorting to using soap nuts for washing, instead of using the harsh chemical-ridden soaps that are available in the market today. Some people grind their masalas at home. How far can this go on, though?
You can build a farm house with a little garden and grow your own fruits and vegetables; even hire a gardener to help out, maybe. You can have a cow – or two – and get your own milk. You can make your own bread and preserves and cheese and butter. You can make all the street food that you crave for at home. To an extent, then, you will be free of harmful ingredients and bacteria. I must say, I have been tempted to do that myself. Sorely. But then, isn’t that a terribly isolating way of living a life? You, your home, your family, your garden become your own cocoon. Will such a lifestyle leave you time for a social life? Does it leave you enough time for your children? Does it leave you enough time to pursue your other passions? As far as I know, it has got to be a terribly consuming life, taking up every waking – sometimes even non-waking minute – of yours.
What, then, is the solution? Where does one draw the line between self-sufficiency and trusting someone else to make a really good product for oneself? How does one find a balance?