Festival in Odisha capital to rediscover indigenous foods

Bhubaneswar: With a large variety of native grains, pulses and legumes, oilseeds, vegetables, tubers on display, the visitors had an enlightening experience at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Kalyan Mandap near Jaydev Vihar in Odisha Capital, to witness the rare varieties of indigenous food stuff under one roof. Denizens including students from various schools flocked to attend this first of its kind food festival, ‘Dharitri Samaroh’.

It’s a festival to rediscover offerings of Mother Earth for our healthy living, organized by a not-for-profit organization, Living Farms. They aim to address the disconnect of urban citizens with farmers and agricultural practices and create an impact on the dietary choices, health and nutrition of people.

Picture Courtesy: Living Farms

“It’s a very interesting festival! There’s so much to learn from the different stalls on healthy food to an exhibition of varieties of rice and agro produce that we don’t eat and some of them we don’t even know about! The photo exhibition showing a glimpse of indigenous knowledge and life makes us think how far we have gone from these knowledge systems,” said Sanjana Santosh, a visitor.

Picture Courtesy: Living Farms

The effort is to have a discussion around how social and ecological issues are involved in production, distribution and consumption of food, said Debjeet Sarangi, Managing Trustee of Living Farms. “Our focus is especially on the influx of fast foods or junk foods in urban diets leading to obesity in urban areas, under-nutrition in rural areas and other serious health concerns,” he added.

There’s a workshop on preparing healthy foods out of locally grown foods and procured from other parts of Odisha, by Ananya Mehta from Bangalore. “We also have a workshop on terrace gardening by Organic Terrace and Prerana Trust, a bookshop having books on ecology, foods, forest and our health. There is an exhibition of more than 250 varieties of forest foods, more than 70 varieties of cultivated foods and more than 300 varieties of traditional rice varieties,” Debjeet further said.

Picture Courtesy: Living Farms

Ananya Mehta believes ‘Dharitri Samaroh’ is a beautiful concept. “It’s a platform to bridge the rural-urban divide and disconnect. A way for urbanites to reconnect with their roots, to know and experience more about ancient, traditional foods, food culture and traditions; and for our rural folks, to showcase and present their ways of life and sustenance,” she said.

Picture Courtesy: Living Farms

Speaking about their expectations from this festival, Debjeet said, “We expect the festival to further encourage discussions on the critical role of the ‘Nature-Agriculture-Culture-Community’ continuum to sustain our local food system.”

The two-day event which began today ends tomorrow evening.

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