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ONLINE BOOKS > INDIA OF MY DREAMS > Village Diet
Polished v. unpolished Rice
If rice can be pounded in the villages after the old fashion the wages will fill the pockets of the rice pounding sisters and the rice eating millions will get some sustenance from the unpolished rice instead of pure starch which the polished rice provides. Human greed, which takes no count of the health or the wealth of the people who come under its heels, is responsible for the hideous rice-mills one sees in all the rice-mills an impossibility by simply insisting on unpolished rice and appealing to the owners of rice-mills to stop a traffic that undermines the health of a whole nation and robs the poor people of an honest mean of livelihood.
That branless (wheat) flour is as bad as polished rice is the universal testimony of medical men. Whole-wheat flour ground in one’s won chakki is any day superior to, and cheaper then, the fine flour to be had in the bazaars. It is cheaper because the cost of grinding is saved. Again, in the whole-wheat flour there is no loss of weight. In fine flour there is loss of weight. The richest part of wheat is contained in its bran. There is a terrible loss of nutrition when the bran of wheat is removed. The villagers and other who eat whole wheat flour ground in their own chakkis save their money and, what is more important, their health. A large part of the millions that flour-mills make will remain in and circulate among the deserving poor when village grinding is revived.
According to the medical testimony…gur is any day superior to refined sugar in food value, and if the villagers cease to make gur as they are beginning to do they will be deprived of and important food adjunct for their children. They may do without gur themselves, but their children cannot without undermining their stamina…. Retention of gur and its use by the people in general means several crores of rupees retained by the villagers.
Take up any modern text-books on food or vitamins, and you would find in it a strong recommendation to take a few edible green leaves uncooked at every meal. Of course, these should always be well washed half a dozen times to remove all dirt. These leaves are to be had in every village for the trouble of picking. And yet greens are supposed to be only a delicacy of cities.
Villagers in many parts of India live on dal and rice or roti, and plenty of chillies, which harm the system. Since the economic re-organization of villages has been commenced with food reform, it is necessary to find out the simplest and cheapest foods that would enable villagers to regain lost health. The addition of green leaves to their meals will enables villagers to avoid many diseases from which they are now suffering. The villagers’ food is deficient in vitamins; many of them can be supplied by fresh green leaves. I had introduced to me the leaves of sarsav, suva, turnip-tops, carrot-tops, radish-tops and pea-nut leaves. Besides these, it is hardly necessary to state that the radish, turnip and carrot tubers are also known to be edible in their raw state. It is waste of money and ‘good’ taste to cook these leaves or tubers. The vitamins contained in these vegetables are wholly or partially lost in cooking. I have called cooking these wastes of ‘good’ taste, because the uncooked vegetables have a natural good taste of their own which is destroyed by cooking.