Last weekend, the OH and I drove down to the Lakshmi temple at Goravanahalli, near Tumkur, along with Bubboo. It was a beautiful day, thanks to which we had a pleasant ride. Bubboo, too, thankfully, was a right soldier through most of the trip, dozing off and eating and drinking and playing in the car.
We encountered some beautiful, untouched rural scenes on the way, stopping by every now and then for a spot of photography. We ran into not one, but two proper village santhes (Sunday santhes, I think) at Goravanahalli and Udigere, en route, and were utterly charmed by them.
My camera was overworked by the time we had finished with both the santhes. How could it not be that way, tell me? Both santhes were a riot of colour and smell, a feast to the senses. They were humble and utterly unpretentious, with no hint of commercialisation. On offer were a huge variety of vegetables, direct from farms, something which is a rarity for people like us, from big cities. There were also basic staples on sale, most of it farm-fresh, including pori, pulses, soaps, tea and coffee powders, rangoli powders, shampoo pouches, sugarcane juice, mixture and spices.
We had our fill of ogling at all that gorgeous produce, and bought quite a few things as well. You know what, most of the vegetables were so very fresh they were good enough to eat raw! And we did see a lot of the villagers eating the vegetables raw, okra and tapioca roots included. I have never seen vegetables as fresh as the ones I saw here, I can safely say. The prices were unbeatable, too – 4 kg of tomatoes at INR 10, 250 grams of chillies at INR 20, a huge bunch of greens at INR 5, okra at INR 20 per kg, and beans at INR 20 a kg! Just what happens on the way from the village to cities like Bangalore for the vegetables to lose all that freshness and for their price to multiply, I wonder.
I came back with a big bag of vegetables, which I wanted to cook immediately and didn’t have the heart to put in the refrigerator. But then, some of it had to go into the refrigerator, sadly.
On the way back home, I peppered the OH with questions, most of them concerning the possibilities of buying fresh produce from santhes like this every week. It would cost us way too much in terms of fuel, he said, and most of the produce would have to be stored in the refrigerator till it was time to cook it, anyways. He was right, of course, but the temptation to do this kind of shopping every weekend just doesn’t go away.
I am, however, seriously worried about just how these farmers are making ends meet. How on earth do they afford to sell at these rates? Or are they just selling off whatever produce they can, at cost price, just so it doesn’t go to waste? That’s how the OH thinks it is, by the way, but I’m not sure. Any thoughts on this? I would love to help farmers like this, but I have no clue about where to start. Ideas, please!