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Sh. P. Govindapillai writes...

The foresighted attempt to promote ethnic cooking and food through a chain of food houses, aptly named, ‘Mother’s Kitchen’ by a young innovative businessman in Kerala is a welcome breakthrough. 




APPARENTLY one of the most baffling questions of modern society is the phenomenal advance in the science and art of medicine and healing along with an equally phenomenal decline of public health. When I say this I do not ignore the fact that some diseases and epidemics once considered inescapable killers have now been reduced to minor ailments which could be cured by a few vaccinations, injections or pills. Among them are Malaria, Smallpox, and Tuberculosis etc. The wonderful technologies of Operation, Scanning and myriad kinds of testing have made the diagnosis and treatment an easy, though quite costly, a play of medium skills.

Along with these naturally “five star” hospitals and super specialty sanatoriums are springing up everywhere including god-forsaken nooks and corners adding to the grist of millionaires. Medical stores with the power of salesmanship of professional go-getters are spreading out their tentacles to draw the life-blood of the unsuspecting multitude with vampire ferocity.

Then suddenly the headlines shock us with the news that Malaria is coming back with a vengeance and that TB is in a resurgent mood. The ancient diseases like Cancer and Diabetes which affected only a microscopic minority in the “bad old past of scientific backwardness” are assuming dimensions of an epidemic. Unheard of killer diseases like AIDS, Swine Flu, Mad Cow and Jap Fever are making their fearsome appearance. In a shrinking world facilitated by the communication revolution and globalization an ailment in distant community spreads globally and takes its toll in the thousands, if not millions.

This is the paradox with which I began this short note. Probing the causes behind this paradoxical phenomenon and attempting to find a reasonable solution to this is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, but difficult and time-consuming. The easy way out of finding and nailing a single wicked villain for all this fiery mess would be a naïve exercise. But one significant causal factor can easily be identified. 
                                           
                                That factor is the unbridled and profit-motivated, rather than human-centred, expansion of industrialisation, technologisation, urbanisation and related changes in our lifestyles. Environmental degradation, water pollution and air poisoning make the modern world dangerous to sustained life. The food habits, aping of dress styles suited for western climate, architecture which shuts out natural light and air, dependence to artificial internal air and light provided by electricity – all these make the life of modern generation fragile and susceptible to weakness and disease.

Among these the food habits play a decisive role. The vegetables and non-vegetables we eat are produced by the specific climate and earth, which nurture the living beings. When we go for tinned food, foreign style cooking, fast food kept up by anti-life preservatives, we are doing violence to our body. Foreign medicines and healing methods are designed for a foreign climate and imitating them corrodes the essence of our living tissues. It is because of that we hear all over the world a strident call for a return to alternate medicine, and re-adoption of indigenous or ethnic food and cooking. In many western countries, which initially imposed their medicine and food style on us in the colonial days are now making a serious effort to return to their past, which was distorted during modern technologisation and urbanisation. Even these five star luxury hotels now provide such ethnic food, for those who wait at intolerable rates. In India and especially Kerala the majority of people still run after exotic experiments in food, and “dining out” has become a fashionable past-time for not only the upper classes but also the middle classes. They do not realise that such thoughtless indulgences only increase their medical bills and erase their taste for the food of their ancestors.

In this background the foresighted attempt to promote ethnic cooking and food through a chain of food houses, aptly named, ‘Mother’s Kitchen’ by a young innovative businessman in Kerala is a welcome breakthrough. Besides providing various items of Kerala’s natural and delicious food to Malayalees, the foreign tourists too would welcome the taste with a difference. The tourists visit our lovely sylvan land with its palm-fringed coasts and lakes and canals, and swim in the symphony of our canoes and houseboats, not to be treated to their own food available in Europe and USA. They want to breath our fresh air, see our glorious greenery and taste our exquisite ethnic cuisine. Mother’s Kitchen provides this.

Back to the Basics, Back to the Roots.