(Based on my friend’s suggestion)
Well it started with the chicken.
My husband swears by his gaonti chicken. I’m not too fond of eating the poor creature which has been butchered before my eyes but I have no qualms about gobbling up stuff that has met the same fate behind my back.
So for the juicy pieces, it was the humble broiler and for the curry, the expensive bony gaonti.
Anyways, lockdown closed down the local chicken shop. On searching online, I came across antibiotic free free-range chicken. That’s right two frees. To my horror I discovered we may have been consuming antibiotics for free from poorly fed low-in-vitamins-and-minerals chicken.
So now it was only the antibiotic -free free range ones for us even though it was triple the price.
The fact that you don’t how many chickens are free ranging per square foot is another matter altogether.
I was feeling really healthy, being enlightened that the free range chicken ate worms and insects in addition to lowly corn, which made it healthier.
Of course, I didn’t enlighten the rest of the family that they were indirectly gobbling worms and insects.
Thinking of chickens got me thinking of eggs. That’s natural progression you see.
Our eggs used to come from the chicken shop, liberally smeared with chicken poop. They were premium high quality gaonti eggs.
Now that that avenue was shut, I looked online again. I discovered that chicken poop can contain salmonella or swine flu and worse.
So our eggs were liberally scrubbed with detergent. But I was still concerned about the detergent contaminating the eggs. I searched further and found salmonella free eggs, infertile eggs (no fetus and so not alive….that made me feel guilty about the potential baby chicks I had been consuming), brown eggs, free range eggs, and brown free range eggs….each more expensive than the other.
Of course, my wise husband told me not to fall in for these marketing gimmicks, so we continue to buy the poop coated ones and give them a good wash.
Lockdown has given me very little free time, but once my son is hooked on to his online classes, my brain and his stomach, both get a break.
Having done with the chicken and the egg, I turned my attention to fish.
Lockdown shut down the fish market. Luckily my enterprising brother came up with an exporter who would supply fresh giant sized slices of the biggest fish in the sea. I stocked up my freezer and forced the door shut. We were going to sail through the rains!
I had heard about the planet Mercury and that silver poisonous stuff in thermometers that we would play with when it spilled out.
I had through my extensive reading, come upon mercury in fish. But I dismissed it assuming it was confined to the little fish you get near the shore and polluted nallas. Clever me, I was sourcing fish from the uncontaminated deep waters from Sassoon dock.
I couldn’t be more misguided!
Now my son was back to daydreaming in his online classes and mercury was hanging at the back of my mind. I nearly died when I discovered that it was the big fish at the top of the food chain that were stocking up on mercury.
Surmai fry, which is a regular favourite on our table had actually been banned in some countries. (It’s going to be banned from our table soon, once we finish off the hundred odd slices we have stocked for the rains.)
I looked at my heavily laden big fish freezer and wondered whether I should chuck the contents out.
Better sense prevailed. It wouldn’t do to throw away foodstuff when people were dying of hunger. So we decided on mercury control and having only one day of fish eating instead of four a week.
Our carnivore heavy menu involved chicken or red meat Sundays , egg curry once a week, fish on the remaining four and for good measure, chole or pao bhaji for our vegetarian day.
So now the question remained about how the mercury landed in the sea. The story goes the coal fired plants ( and there are plenty of them in India…we are laden with coal, which is a good thing, but…) generate electricity and their chimneys release mercury. The breeze carries this stuff and deposits it in the sea for the fish to eat.
So now the less the fish on the table, the better I thought. The pre lockdown supplies are still going strong in my freezer.
Good time to start going vegan…..
I had read that Gandhiji used to have only fruits and nuts (and goat’s milk, but I’ll get to that some other time).
So I loaded by dining table with huge baskets of fruits to entice my carnivorous kids.
Well, they ate a few mangoes.
Now. we have decided not to leave our complex even if our life depended on it, so I ordered from one of the overpriced organic fruits and vegetable suppliers. The stuff came with fancy packing, but tasted much the same as the ones from the bhaiya outside the gate.I don’t know if these things happen only to me, but I got a strange specimen of a papaya which was raw green on one half and ripe orange on the other. I wish I had taken a picture to post, as this picture I got on the net doesn’t come anywhere close.
Well anyways, I was chatting with a friend, who suggested I make the most of my two in one papaya…. cook the green part and eat the ripe orange. The papaya was finally consumed by my dustbin as it was unpalatable.
But once something enters my head it doesn’t leave till it is straightened out to my satisfaction.
My friend sent a cryptic message saying “differential exposure to carbide gases”.
I thought calcium carbide was used only on mangoes and bananas but a quick round of googling showed that papayas were mistreated as well.
Anyways this put me off from the fresh from the farm organic stuff for good..and left my husband very happy due to the significantly lower bills.
My maid is very resourceful and has a solution to every problem. She stepped in saying she will pick up my daily veggies fresh from the bhaiya outside the gate. Sheer genius!
Organic or not, pesticide or insecticide laced or not…. they are fresh…and cheap.
Then there was a time when I tried keeping a tab on locust movements because reports said heavy insecticides were being sprayed to exterminate the critters.
But try as I might I couldn’t correlate my veggies origins with locust pathways and stopped dreaming of locusts chomping my head off.
I also tried to figure out which cereals and veggies originate from mercury coated fields near coal plants but with no success.
As for dals I buy unpolished ones blindly because in Tatas I trust. Now if they came from the Ambani’s. that would come in for detailed scrutiny.
Our family used to guzzle a fair amount of milk which was deemed to be super healthy.
Given the amount of contamination stories that hit the newspapers ever day….with milk pouches opened and replaced with detergent to mimic the original stuff and resealed… I stuck to wholesome tetra-pack cow’s milk.
I am not even feeling guilty about adding to the earth’s garbage using tetra-packs, because my priority is to protect my family.
Unfortunately someone came up with the theory that guzzling milk is counterproductive after five years of age and all the cows in India are injected with hormones which are passed on to us. I already have a tough time dealing with my menopausal hormone changes, not to mention those of my teenage daughters. And man-boobs🤦🏻♀️
So now milk is only for tea or coffee or the occasional treat of cornflakes.
Now the items on the menu were depleting rapidly but we had resolved to eat healthy.
I know this is dragging on too long, so I’ll try and end on a sweet note.
We have been having a peculiar problem recently.
Although our house is well guarded against the birds and the bees ( I’m referring to mosquito nets and pigeon nets) a bee has been making it ( not out) inside every evening, making my entomophobiac ( insect fearing in English) daughter go completely paranoid. (I just hope the neighbours haven’t called the police but in any case the police are too busy battling COVID to bother about mundane things like murder attempts.)
We finally found out that the culprit was a regular visitor…a squirrel that had gotten through the pigeon nets and poked holes into the mosquito nets to let the bee in. What collaboration!
I promise I’ll stop digressing and come straight to the point…the bees.
My honey loving family is currently having wild honey from wild bees fed on jamun fruit from a tree in our compound. It’s ultra sweet and crystallises in winter. Since my store bought stuff continued being liquidy through the year. I decided to Google.
My suspicions about my honey walla were proved false and all store brands we’re declared to have various percentages of various antibiotics.
Now that my stock of honey is rapidly going down I’m desperately trying to trace my non branded Honeywalla.
The only thing I haven’t had a problem with is nuts and that’s not because I have many in the house😜
So it all boils down to ……a boiled egg a day is very good for health and so is everything else, within limits…😎