Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Food for Thought!

Blessed are those who have an access to home grown fresh vegetables. Recently I read in the newspaper about the horrible things which enter our bodies through innocuous looking fruits and vegetables.
Heavy metals like lead in air coat the outer surfaces of green leafy vegetables, and then there are other contaminants which find their way into the vegetables through pesticides, polluted water etc. It is estimated that an average person consumes a whole lot of heavy metals, organochlorines and organophosphates and numerous potentially harmful parasites through vegetables. Initially I thought that this might be a problem more in developing countries as the required safety and hygiene standards, though in place, are not strictly implemented; but I was surprised by the information available on To quote from the article, ‘All together, FDA claims that only 3.1 percent of fruits and vegetables in American grocery stores contain illegal pesticides. However, the FORBIDDEN FRUIT report reveals, based on analysis of FDA's own monitoring data, that 5.6 percent -- or about one pound out of every 18 pounds of food on grocer's shelves--contains illegal pesticides. A person eating 5 fruits and vegetables a day will be eating illegal pesticides 75 times a year’.
Surprising! Isn’t it? The situation has Pandemic proportions. Here in my part of the world problem is more serious. Besides the usual contaminants, sometimes the vegetables being sold by unscrupulous local vendors and shopkeepers are soaked in toxic dyes to give them a fresh and ‘healthy’ look. For e.g. Okra is coated with malachite green, a dye which has proven carcinogenic potential, red color is artificially injected inside water melons to beguile people about its sweetness(The problem is gradually decreasing in proportion due to opening up of supermarkets and retail chains, but in smaller cities roadside vendors are still the major provider of vegetables and fruits). Home grown vegetables besides being fresh, pesticide free and grown with relatively less or no chemical fertilizer are way tastier than those from the grocery store. In addition there is an element of satisfaction involved in eating veggies grown by one’s own sweat and toil. There is absolutely no need to have a big piece of land to grow your own vegetables; it can be done even in pots, buckets, drums, discarded motor tires, terraces etc. It is simply a question of a lot of will and a little imagination and one can enjoy the fruits..err.. vegetables of her labor! I especially loved the idea of using buckets to grow potatoes, when I first saw it on BLISS by Yolanda Elizabet. Same way, the concept of your own home grown vegetables and interesting recipes to make the veggies a gourmet delight by Calendula & Concrete, is admirable. Gardening, besides being a worthy passion, brings us closer to nature and is a healthy indulgence in more ways than one!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August Garden Bloggers Blooms Day

A very happy and bloomful Bloggers Blooms day to all of you. August is a month when rains start to wane and the weather gradually advances towards cooler and thus better in India Garden; so here I go around clicking my blooms, enjoying the cool moist air and smelling the captivating smell of wet earth. Starting with The auspicious, ever so charming Rose... 'Sparkles’ of Gaillardia… Cannot resist a Canna lily... New bloom in my flowering World- Cosmos. Pristine white- Pentas. Five petals form a pentacle; that’s rather interesting as a pentacle is believed to be the nature’s symbol of great power (Ever read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown!) Star of the garden The Shooting Star Flower or Pseuderanthemum laxiflorum ... ‘Spaghetti on top’! Crinum asiaticum ‘Periwinkle’ or Sadabahaar which means always in bloom in hindi Hedychium coronarium or the Ginger lily- rain flowering plants, an indicator that we did have rains this season! Glad to have Gladioli blooming. Some more and I’ll be giving off bouquets!!! Spider lily… an ephemeral bloom… symbolic of rain. There is a predominance of ‘white’ this time; have the rains washed the garden of its color? Colocasia…It also Flowers! Crape jasmine or ‘Chandni’-as it is known in Hindi. ‘Chandni’ refers to moonlight and because of the soothing white color this flower has, it has been named so. Blooming Bananas! Might seem odd here, but couldn’t resist including these cute ‘infantile’ Bananas in the bloom list,well, the flower looks lovely too. That is the list of my blooms. Hibiscus, Zinia and Celosia are blooming too. Once again I thank all my blogger friends out there for having made our mutual passion, gardening, feel even more interesting. Time to do some blog hopping, and enjoy the blooms all over the world, all this, while ensconced in the comforts of my home.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Healing Garden

A garden full of plants has a salutary effect on the soul. There is a certain healing quality to a thriving garden, where the anxieties, worries and stress dissipate themselves, leaving one feeling fresh and at peace with oneself and the universe. Besides this meditative quality, providing one with abstract health benefits, a home garden is such a reservoir of curative plants.In ancient times herbs and plants used to be the only means of treatment. With the advent of modern system of medicine, which gave instant gratification, herbal medicine went out of vogue but with increasing health consciousness and a newfound love for nature, herbal medicine is making a rapid recovery internationally.
India has traditionally been a land of Ayurveda, the science of good health. The medicinal properties of various plants were known to ancient Indian Doctors and the knowledge was used to treat people.
There are plenty of plants in home gardens which are possessed with the ability to interact with our physiology in a positive manner; some are common knowledge, some not so.
These household plants have traditionally formed a part of home remedies for e.g. the neem plant, botanically known as Azadirachta indica, has always been an integral part of traditional Indian medical practices. The tree can grow up to 35m in length and all the parts have found some use in medicine as a pesticide, an insect repellant, antimicrobial, for treatment of certain skin conditions etc. It is a long list and for that reason the tree had a god like status in ancient Indian psychology. Another common plant is the Turmeric or Curcuma longa. The usable portion is basically a rhizome which is cut boiled, dried and pounded to give an orange-yellow powder, used extensively in Indian foods and curries. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is believed to be responsible for its health benefits. Traditionally, turmeric was valued for its antiseptic properties but now an added attention is being focused for its role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. The incidence of this disease in India is remarkably low as compared to the western world and a possible reason is the consumption of turmeric throughout the country. Nature is benevolent to have provided miracle cures in one's backyard. Medicinal plants form an exhaustive list and there must be so many more waiting to be discovered for their potential use. I wonder, if all the local systems of medicine like Ayurveda in India, herbal medicine in China, naturopathy etc, can be combined together to evolve a scientific discipline like allopathy, which will be cheaper, natural and relatively side effect free.


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