Food Awareness — Part2

Shankar Venkataraman
5 min readDec 13, 2020
A rich collection of vegetables mildly roasted

A customer recently asked me,

Hi Shankar! Will the changes to the farm bill (Agricultural Reform in India by Govt. of India) have any impact on privately managed farms like Mapletree? directly or indirectly?

Here is a summary of my answer.

The farmer is a simple guy in India. He is powerless against a big corporation that has let us say 100 to 10,000 farmers supplying to a single corporation. By size advantage and buying power, the corporate company will exploit the farmer. It's a business need because the competitors are also trying to pay less to the farmers and offering it cheap to the consumer.

The side effect of this corporate exploitation is he is also hurting his soil and his workers by making it cheaper and cheaper to produce food. But chemical companies are also pushing farmers to buy expensive chemicals to continue squeezing yield out of an already dead soil made dead by repeated chemical use.

In China, for example, more than 25 percent of previously fertile farm soil is now desert because of exploitation of soil by farmers facing to produce cheaper food.

I told the customer that the solutions to problems faced by farmers can be summarized in 4 bullets.

  1. The farm sells direct to end customers like you. This is why I started doing home direct because as a farmer I was exploited.

2. Farmers must form a cooperative to ensure that farmer gets a fair share of what the end customer like you pays the cooperative.

3. Employees, customers, and farmers of the cooperative are all shareholders of the cooperative.

4. Farmer gets education to ensure not to destroy his soil and understand how he should not get exploited by chemical companies that sell to him or food companies that buy from him. Also, he gets proper farming training to protect his soil.

Let us examine bullet 4 above. What is the meaning of not destroying the soil?

One ton of Volcanic Rock or Stone, ground to powder 200 mesh fine screen size will have a surface area of 16000 acres. The useful elements in the stone are exposed by grinding it for consumption by micro-organisms. If you add 0.75 tons of this stone powder to one acre, the soil micro-organisms will consume the minerals in this stone powder and provide them to crops that will then will become highly nutritious. One of the biggest problems with farming is the lack of mineral nutrition in the soil. There is hardly any discussion about this at all. Do your farmers put the minerals in their soils? Do you know as a customer?

Are farmers really managing the soil well? There is so much discussed about the problems faced by farmers in selling products. But why are we taking a simplistic and reductionist approach when talking about the nutrition of the product. Because when there is limited nutrition in the product, first the plant that made the product (fruit vegetable or grain) will be sickly.

I want to introduce an organization in this blog as an example that is working hard for healthy farms, healthy animals in farms, and healthy food with high nutritional value.

The challenge I face as a farmer is the lack of any financial value given by the customer for the effort I put into the soil to grow a nutritionally rich crop. Farmers need an economic incentive for growing nutrition-rich crop. Otherwise, farms will get destroyed as they compete with other farms who squeeze their soils to the limits to produce cheap food.

The customers must do their part to support farms to protect their family health as below.

  1. consider buying from sincere farmers who protect and care for their soil and question methods and traceability of the product.
  2. Question your organic vendor about how much of what you pay reaches the farmer and how much reaches the soil that grows your food.
  3. If your money does not reach the soil and make it fertile and does not give fair wages to farmworkers, how will you ensure you get nutrition-rich food tomorrow for your family?
  4. Its the duty of the customer to be a shareholder of the farm. To ask questions and vote with their purchasing power and not just vote for conveniences of service alone.
  5. Vote for a farmer who takes good care of soil (proves it with data and not merely says it). Make the connection to the soil. Visit your farmer. Help him tell his kids to remain farmers. There is no future for cities if villages fail and farming fails.
  6. Do not buy hydroponic food. Everything that appears like food is not food. All foods that look the same are not the same.

When I travel to California to stay with my family, I shop at farmers' markets. The pictures that are shown in this blog are the foods I cook to get good nutrition for my family. I ask you to do the same. Buy from farmers directly and eat freshly harvested food. I suggest you eat all foods harvested no more than 3 days ago. This means you replenish your fruits and vegetables every 3 days. This is critical to not lose nutrition in the vegetables.

Spinach loses much of its nutritional value within seven days of being harvested. No matter how you store it. Apples lose all their vitamin C within a few weeks of harvest, even when stored in cold storage or frozen. The highest nutritional value is usually the ones that arrived at your home in the fewest hours from being harvested by the grower. Stored fruits and vegetables that have lost their nutritional value, are little more than sugar bombs within a day or two of being harvested.

Health in a plate from farmers I know who harvested it the day before this was cooked.
Nutrition Rich fresh plate of food made with freshly harvested vegetables, whole grains, sprouted tofu.

Here are some rules to follow for nutrition.

  1. High fiber in the diet to feed the micro-organisms in your small and large intestines.
  2. Harvested no more than two days ago
  3. Mineral-rich, microbe-rich high organic matter soils as verified by you.
  4. Cooked with care and maximum variety (eat minimum 200 varieties in any given year)
  5. Whole grain, wholesome, no packaging, direct from farmers.
  6. Maximum colors, minimum oils that too cold-pressed unfiltered.
  7. 5–7 servings of vegetables and fruits every day. (1 serving is 75 grams) for each person in your family (varies with age a bit).
  8. 95% plant-based food.

Thank you for reading.

Shankar @bhoomifarmers @mapletreefarms



Shankar Venkataraman

Farmer, author, farming teacher, public speaker. Areas of Agriculture and technology in Agriculture.