Friday, April 3, 2009

Of the quintessential brinjal vs. the Bt Brinjal !

While the world over, experts debate on the geopolitics of food scarcity and crop scientists devise climate resilient crops, Bangalore (India) comes up with a first-ever brinjal festival to effect a re-think on informed food choices ..... protesting the recent introduction of the first Genetically Modified crop ..... the Bt Brinjal !

There is the tomato festival in Bunyol (Spain), pumpkin festival at Keene (New Hampshire, U.S.A.), carrot festival at Hotville (California, U.SA.), potato festival at Whitchurch (Wales, U.K.) and even the celebrated lettuce festival at Yuma (Arizona, U.S.A.) …… now a brinjal festival in the very homeland of brinjals !

However, there is an interesting anomaly herein! Unlike the populist nature of those long-established veggie festivals, our very own indigenous-flavoured brinjal festival primarily aims at sustainable food solutions for a healthy future, using the brinjal as its flagship campaign.

While the universally popular food fests traditionally began by celebrating the abundance of harvests, over time they developed into mammoth events featuring on world maps of annual food festivals. Today as travel writers and food aficionados flock to these tourism hotspots, there is plenty of hype surrounding these crop festivals. Thus, the spirit today is more in tune with the demands of popular tourism and the cultural hoi polloi, rather than in honour of the vegetable crop.

In a scenario where such veggie festivals have degenerated into popular tourist draws to the accompaniment of massive crop wastage, the brinjal festival scheduled on 5th April, at Bangalore, assumes significance. For this strives to be a festival with a difference ….. celebrating the presence of a vegetable indigenous to India vis-a-vis the maiden entry of the Genetically Modified (GM) Bt Brinjal.

Brought to the forefront by the Association for India’s Development (AID, Bangalore), the brinjal festival aims to highlight the diversity of this vegetable endemic to the cultural ethos of India, and attempts to bring about a better consciousness and respect for the traditionally rich food. With an exhibition showcasing more than 30 varieties of the brinjal as grown in India, and competitions to highlight the versatility of brinjal in Indian cuisine, the brinjal festival is aimed at promoting the importance of making informed choices about our food.

GOOD FOOD, HEALTHY FOOD, SAFE FOOD …… seems to be the catchphrase, as AID comes up with an innovative style to educate people about the ill effects of genetically modified food and food crops.

The screening of "Poison the Platter" is aimed at adding a powerful visual impact, while the presence of the farming community, health professionals and the scientific community, is designed to lend a solemnity to the occasion.

Bangalore, I salute thee! For thy cognizant demographics, vibrant youth and civic vigilance. For never failing to respond to every socio-economic build-up with a unique take .....

And of course, a big hurrah for our very own baigan ...... begun ..... badenakayi ..... whatever!

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