Growing, selling and consuming food is an enormous business, one that forsakes human and animal health for profitability with harmful practices involving the use of copious amounts of toxic pesticides and herbicides. While food produced using these techniques contaminates the land it is grown on, eventually rendering it barren and infertile, human beings who consume this food face the risk of long-term health hazards, caused by alarmingly high levels of pesticide build-up within the cells of our body. Simply put, mass-produced crops poison human bodies as well as the land they are grown on.
The good news is that growing and consuming food doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Banyan Roots recognizes and appreciates the enormous benefits that organic farming brings to human health, as well as to India’s farming community that has been struggling to preserve traditional, organic farming practices in the face of rampant consumerism. We work to create a sustainable, healthy relationship between the farmers and consumers of organic food by safeguarding the interests of everyone involved – we ensure that farmers receive fair prices for the crop, advice on sustainable, organic farming techniques, and support to become economically independent, while offering conscious consumers healthful, nutritious food that is also surprisingly affordable. We believe firmly in the adage that ‘you are what you eat’. This is why we believe in not just selling you food but in serving you nutritive produce that has been grown with love.
Growing organic food is a labour of love. Our farmers don’t believe in dousing crop with pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other chemical short-cuts that grow food much faster than it is meant to, but also rob it of all nutrition. They recognize that the true cost for mass-produced food is borne by the environment and society. Organic farmers work hard to tend to their crop, substituting labour for quick-and-easy chemicals, use all-natural compost and animal manure as fertilizer and rely on intelligent techniques such as crop rotation instead of chemical weed-killers to keep the land healthy and fertile. Contrast this to mass-produced crops that are often grown on soil that isn’t fit to bear them, all for the sake of more profitability, and it’s easy to see why organic food will always be the better alternative. Banyan Roots’ products are not pumped with chemical fertilizers and hormones to make them grow faster, do not forsake the farmer for sake of more profitability and do not deceive consumers into buying and consuming food that is little more than an empty shell masquerading as nutrition.
The bonus? Good food that actually tastes better. Organically-produced crop contains a higher concentration of antioxidants and benefits from a greater availability of nutrients in the soil they are grown on, owing to smaller crop sizes. This enhances their flavour, aroma and even their mouth-feel, resulting in a more intense sensory experience for consumers. The lower levels of synthetic nitrite in these foods, also means that they tend to stay good for longer than conventional, mass-produced crop.
Another supposed agricultural ‘revolution’ that has been gaining momentum in recent years is Genetically Modified or GM seeds. GM seeds are created in laboratories, where their DNA is specifically altered and the modified genes are then reinserted into the seeds. Multinational seed companies claim that these mutations help to counter pests, diseases and improve crop yield. Better yields mean more food security and, presumably, bigger gains for farmers. The truth about GM seeds is that several short-term studies have demonstrated an increased likelihood of problems related to the liver, and reproduction and immune systems. While these results are still under further deliberation, researchers are concerned that these seeds and crops have not been around for long enough for us to understand the long-term implications of manipulating their DNA. GM seeds also raise production costs for farmers and are yet another way to keep them locked into the commercial food production industry, which has always been more partial to profits as compared to farmers’ interests as well as the health of consumers. Banyan Roots educates farmers about the potential health and financial implications arising from the use of GM seeds, encouraging them to use non-GM seeds.
Also known as holistic agriculture, traditional low-cost natural farming involves eliminating the expenditure and dependence associated with mass-produced agriculture. Instead of expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides, traditional low-cost natural farming makes use of kunap jal from krishi parasar and vrikshayurveda, or natural liquid compost produced using a nearly thousand year-old technique, panchgavya or cow manure, and other natural, biodegradable materials that are combined with a scientific understanding of ecology and technology. Traditional low-cost natural farmers use mulching, soil preservation techniques, crop rotation, compost and biological pest control to ensure that the crop produced is closest to its natural state. Traditional low-cost natural farming also places a lot more emphasis on selecting plant breeds and safeguarding the fertility of the soil to boost productivity, instead of relying on genetic engineering. These techniques are disseminated to the local farming community, in a bid to make agriculture sustainable, nutritious and fair.
India is, at heart, an agricultural country. India ranks second on the global fore in terms of its farm output. And yet, the contribution of agriculture to the country’s economy has been steadily declining over the years, and the productivity of India’s farms is much lower as compared to international leaders. Many farmers are discouraged by the high initial costs associated with modern agricultural techniques, and are slowly migrating to larger cities in search of alternative means of income and employment.
Through all our initiatives, Banyan Roots aims to empower farmers with the tools, platforms, knowledge and support necessary for economic and technological self-sufficiency. We believe that it is only when India’s villages are self-sufficient that the ideal of inclusive growth becomes more real and tangible. Banyan Roots is a definitive step forward in this direction and we are certain that it lays down the foundation for a stronger, more sustainable tomorrow.