The two-day annual food festival conducted in Bhubaneswar on January 20th and 21st is an important component of the designed project ‘Reclaiming Our Sovereign Food Systems’ supported by MISEREOR. The project intends to engage with both rural and urban communities to regain their lost control over food production and consumption.
Due to the state’s inappropriate policies related to food production, distribution and consumption and globalised food system have resulted in people losing control over their very basic need, i.e., food. In the current scenario from seeds to packaged food every aspect is controlled by the corporations. This systematic push towards the market economy have made people vulnerable both in rural and urban areas. In rural areas food growers are losing their traditional seeds, continuously depending on external inputs and getting trapped in bank loans. Whereas in urban areas, people who are not likely to grow their own food are losing access to poison-free food. On the other hand, they are also flooded with unhealthy, highly processed, energy – dense, fatty food items every day. Most importantly, a kind ‘insensitivity’ and ‘disconnectedness’ towards food growers and food is developed among the ‘new rich’ and the rising middle class. For them food is always available in ‘super market’ irrespective of scanty rains, drought, natural disasters.
It was a conscious effort of Living Farms to engage with urban citizens to address some of the issues mentioned above. In the last year we have been engaging with children, parents and teachers in some schools in Bhubaneswar and have initiated important discussion among these groups related to safe food. These efforts have generated many important steps and decisions within some schools and among many parents towards healthy and safe food habits.
To reach out to many and build a network of people to achieve this common objective of moving towards safe and healthy living ‘Dharitri Samaroh’ was organized on 20th and 21st in the month of January. It was a festival to celebrate the offerings of Mother Earth and was a ‘gathering’ (Samaroh) of people coming together and realising some of their forgotten responsibilities.
Food being the major focus, to also give a holistic understanding of healthy, safe and conscious living ‘Dharitri Samaroh’ had Kondh Adivasi farmers from Rayagda district with more than 300 cultivated and uncultivated food varieties (crops grown on low, medium, upland & food collected from forest), including endangered rice varieties, city gardeners with live demonstrations, varieties of cooked and uncooked rice grown in Odisha, a photo story exhibition on rich Adivasi food traditions and their struggles, a book shop with a rare collection of books on ecology, agrarian crisis, children’s education & Adivasi lives. The Samaroh also hosted handmade natural soap makers, recycled paper craft demonstration, organic- hand spun naturally dyed cotton fabrics from Tula* and creative expressions including poetry, short stories, traditional recipes, drawings, paintings, skit and experience sharing on safe food by the students and teachers of Sri Aurobindo School of Integral Education, Khandagiri, Bhubaneswar.
Click on the below link to read the complete report –Dharitri Samaroh- Report