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Mahatma Gandhi


37. Ghee

Those who can afford it are fond of eating ghee. It enters into the preparation of almost all the sweetmeats. And yet, or perhaps by reason of it, it is one of the most adulterated articles of food. The vast bulk of it that one gets in the bazar is undoubtedly adulterated. Some, if not most, of it is mixed with injurious fats which non-meat-eaters must not eat. Vegetable oils are often mixed with ghee. This mixture diminishes the vitamin value of ghee when it does not contain rancid oils. When the oils mixed are rancid, the ghee is unfit for consumption.

At Maganwadi we have been insisting on procuring cow's ghee. It has meant much difficulty and great expense. We have paid as much as Rs. 50 per 40 lb. plus railage.

This can only be for a rich man's pockets. We are trying as much as we can to approximate the poor man's standard consistent with balanced diet scale. I observed that Dr. Aykroyd had omitted ghee from his balanced diet scale. Medical testimony, while it insists on milk or butter-milk, does not insist on butter or ghee as an indispensable part of the daily menu. We have tentatively dropped ghee from our menu, except for those who consider it to be necessary for their health. We are issuing an equivalent in weight of pure fresh vegetable oils. Millions in India never know the taste of ghee. After all it should be borne in mind that those who take milk get some ghee in the purest and most assimilable form. Apart from the question of relish it may safely be said that village workers can with impunity omit ghee from their diet so long as they can procure some milk or curds or buttermilk.

At the same time it is the duty of wealthy people and public bodies like municipalities to place at the disposal of poor people cheap wholesome unadulterated milk and its products. Adulteration of milk or other foods should be as difficult as counterfeit coin or note or postage stamp, and their value should be standardized as is that of postage stamps.

If half the skill that is today devoted to the management of commercial concerns meant for private gain were devoted to the conduct of dairies for the public benefit and shops for foodstuffs, they could be run as self-supporting institutions. There is nothing to prevent them from becoming so, except the public disinclination to give the requisite skill and capital to such philanthropic concerns. The benevolence of the wealthy is exhausted in the effort to run Sadavrats, to misfeed the ever-increasing army of beggars who are a burden on society. For they eat without labouring. It is benevolence misplaced, if it may not be described as mischievous. The difficulty amounting to impossibility of getting wholesome articles of diet at reasonable rates in every town and village, is a great stumbling block in the way of the village worker. Time is not wasted when village workers attempt to find out by experiments what in spite of this handicap are the indigenous sources of procuring an adequate diet.

Harijan, 2-11-1935