Baapu’s experiments with food

Baapu’s experiments with food

October 2nd, on Gandhi Jayanthi, we cannot help but remember his autobiography “My experiments with Truth”. Baapu as he is fondly called, experimented with most of the essential aspects of life including diet and food, which remained a lifelong hobby. When he said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, he meant practicing what you preach, and so he did. In his quest for a simple lifestyle, he also had to find food that allowed him to maintain his energy levels. His findings and preferences are included in his books “Key to Health”, “The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism” and “Diet and Diet Reforms”

Here are a few interesting anecdotes on his food choices:

On raw vegan diet:

Gandhi, apart from being a stanch vegetarian, also promoted a raw vegan diet. For several years his diet consisted of mainly seasonal local fruits, peanuts and olive oil (for fat). Prof N R Malkani, who became Gandhi’s close associate in Sind, recalled that when he first met him, “He was carrying with him a covered tin of groundnut paste which was called his ‘butter’ and when he sat down to eat, he devoured a lot of plantains with this groundnut butter.” In an excerpt from Diet and Diet Reforms, we also get to see that he started consuming Sprouted Wheat when experimenting with a fully raw diet.

Mahatma Gandhi having Goat Milk Curds at Tea with Mountbatten (Source: Commons) 


However, he later had to add Goat milk (as he had taken a vow not to consume cow and buffalo milk), to his diet, as well as, cooked food, when his health started failing. He however kept looking for a way to eliminate all animal products from his life till the end.

On alternate sweeteners:

“The juice of the coconut tree can be transformed into a sugar as soft as honey… Nature created this product such that it could not be processed in factories. Palm sugar can only be produced in palm tree habitats. Local populations can easily turn the nectar into coconut blossom sugar. It is a way to solve the world’s poverty. It is also an antidote against misery.” Gandhi 3.5.1939. Gandhi also advised the consumption of jaggery, palm sugar, palm jaggery, but was vehemently opposed to white or refined sugar.

On cereals:

Gandhi believed cereals such as – wheat, rice, jowar, bajra was required in medium portions. Excerpt from his book “Key to Health”, “The cereals should be properly cleansed, ground on a grinding stone, and the resulting flour used as it is. Sieving of the flour should be avoided. It is likely to remove the bhusi or the pericarp which is a rich source of salt and vitamins and roughage, which are most valuable form the point of view of nutrition and for bowel movement. Important constituents of the cereals are lost with the removal of their pericarp.”

Gandhi ji eating a simple meal at the ashram

About rice Gandhi ji said, “Rice grain being very delicate, nature has provided it with an outer covering or epicure. This is not edible. In order to remove this inedible portion, rice has to be pounded. Pounding should be just sufficient to remove the epicarp or the outer skin of the rice grain. But machine pounding not only removes the outer skin, but also polishes the rice by removing its pericarp. The explanation of the popularity of polished rice lies in the fact that polishing helps preservation. The pericarp is very sweet and unless it is removed, rice is easily spoilt. Polished rice and wheat without its pericarp, supply us with almost pure starch.”

We invite you to try eating like Gandhi. Unfortunately, what he considered simple and natural, has become the exception rather than the norm. Polished grains, refined sugars, and chemical rich fruits and vegetables are the conventional foods of the day. But we have to be grateful that there are still farmers growing foods in the traditional organic way, and we can still process foods in traditional ways like stone grinding.

Check out Dhatu Organics selection of whole grains, stone ground flours, sprouted foods, unpolished rice, natural sweeteners, and natural mineral rich salts. Visit Rasa Dhatu in Mysore to try our Organic 100% vegetatian cuisine like Roasted Vegetables with Peanut Butter, and several dishes made with millets, whole grains, goat milk and milk alternatives, as well as raw vegan delicacies. Visit Dhatu Stores for a complete range of Organic produce.




Zero-Budget Natural Farming

Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) come into being by Subhash Palekar, an agricultural scientist who promotes and actively educates farmers in natural farming techniques, ZBNF involves methods that require no cost input from the farmer’s side in terms of pesticides, fertilizers or even irrigation. Natural methods are used to retain and improve soil health, control pests, and increase yields. A farmer will also be able to produce his own seed, and natural fertilizers are created using cow dung, cow urine and other materials. According to Mr. Palekar, one native cow is all one needs to take up this method of farming on thirty acres of land.

palekarMr. Palekar hails from the state of Maharashtra and is fondly called the “Krishi ka Rishi” or the farmer’s sage! He has trained over 4 million farmers in the last two decades on these sustainable, eco-friendly farming techniques. He was honoured with the Bharat Krishi Ratna award and the Basava Shri, which includes the Dalai Lama and Anna Hazare among its recipients.

How ZBNF Works                                                       

Based on his experience with both natural and chemical farming techniques and his observation of nature, Mr. Palekar designed the following principles of ZBNF:

  • Beejamrita, the treatment of seeds, seedlings or any planting material with a natural concoction to protect the crop from harmful soil borne and seed borne pathogens during the initial stages of growth.
  • Jeevamrita, which is introduced once a fortnight into the farm to promote biological activity in the soil and make nutrients available to the crop.
  • Mulching with organic residues to reduce tillage, suppress weeds, promote humus formation and enhance the soil’s water-holding capacity.
  • Mixed cropping and cultivation of diverse species of crops depending on site-specific agro-climatic conditions, to buffer against total failure of a single crop and widen the income source of farmers.

Organic Farming

Organic Farming
Before the Green Revolution, just over 50 years ago, all farming was “Organic”. Industrialization of the agriculture sector and the short term view of producing higher yields led to large scale adaptation of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and hybridization of seeds. While this certainly led to improved yields, it also made the farmers more and more reliant on these chemicals to keep up yields. Also pests that develop resistance to the pesticides, tend to pose more severe challenges. All the added chemicals in the food is also being linked to increased incidents of lifestyle disorders.

Organic farming is a returning to the roots of traditional farming practices by successfully managing natural resources, while maintaining or enhancing the quality of the environment.

The following are some of the techniques used in Organic Farming:

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar or different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. It helps in reducing soil erosion and increases soil fertility and crop yield. Crop rotation gives various nutrients to the soil. A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals and other crops. Crop rotation also mitigates the build-up of pathogens and pests that often occurs when one species is continuously cropped, and can also improve soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants. Crop rotation is one component of polyculture.

Companion planting

Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is the planting of different crops in proximity for pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial creatures, maximizing use of space, and to otherwise increase crop productivity. Companion planting is a form of polyculture


Intercropping is a multiple cropping practice involving growing two or more crops in proximity. The most common goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land by making use of resources that would otherwise not be utilized by a single crop. Careful planning is required, taking into account the soil, climate, crops, and varieties. It is particularly important not to have crops competing with each other for physical space, nutrients, water, or sunlight. Examples of intercropping strategies are planting a deep-rooted crop with a shallow-rooted crop, or planting a tall crop with a shorter crop that requires partial shade.

Biological control

Biological control is a bio effectors-method of controlling pests (including insects, mites, weeds and plant diseases) using other living organisms.[1] It relies on predation, parasitism, herbivory, or other natural mechanisms, but typically also involves an active human management role. It can be an important component of integrated pest management (IPM) programs.