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.
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.
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.”
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.