Friday, 27 July 2018

How to know whether your vegetables are organic or chemically grown ?

we have some few ways to know whether the food or vegetables which we consume are organically or chemically grown. It depends on Appearance, Taste, Size, Insects, Smell Test, Cooking time, etc...

Courtesy: DNAINDIA

     If it is naturally and organically grown, no two items will look identical... ever! It's just not possible to find two things that look absolutely alike in nature. No two leaves of the same mango tree will ever look 100% alike. Similarly, each apple, mango or even grain will always look different from another. Their colour, shape, structure will never be uniform. There will, for instance, be different shades of yellow in your moong dal instead of the uniformly bleached yellow of the regular packaged dal.

Size Up
    Fruits, vegetables and grains won't be huge in size. So while it is okay to go "ooh aah!" over huge potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, eggplants, cauliflower, capsicum and the humble lauki, or bottle gourd, it is better not to transfer them to your plate. There are, of course, special cases in which people do grow large-sized fruits and vegetables organically as well, but they are not the norm and are difficult to find.

Your Insect Friends
    Keedas (worms) in your grains are actually good news. Naturally grown sabut daals (like moong sabut, or urad sabut), atta, maida, brown rice, white rice and other grains will get keedas after two-three months and especially in the rains... because keedas too know that non-organic food is just not edible. So don't jump up and down when you see the worms; all you need to do is wash the grain or sun them out like our grandmothers would and still live on to a 100 years. Keedas don't contaminate your food, pesticides do. Similarly, if you see a few holes in the leaves of the greens you are buying, pick up the bunch; it means it is not heavily 'pesticided'. And one rule of thumb to follow with greens is this: after washing them well, give a final rinse of salt water for two-three minutes. This helps remove germs and residue.

    Natural is just tastier. When you cook organic vegetables, you will realise that you need less spices as there is so much natural flavour. Similarly, organic fruits are juicier as they are allowed to ripen on the tree. Otherwise, fruits are usually plucked when green and then gassed to ripen and increase shelf life. In the case of a banana, your taste buds will speak up because the pesticide fruit has more water due to the spraying of acetylene gas. Unfortunately, most mangoes today are artificially ripened and apples have the maximum pesticides. The adage 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away' is actually only for organic apples.

    Organic feels healthier, is far lighter on the digestive system and also helps reduce acidity and gas related GI issues. You will feel a perceptible difference soon enough.

The Smell Test
    The aroma and texture of organic food is totally different — very potent, in fact. Organic spices, for instance, will have a strong aroma and flavour as they retain their oil content. In non-organic spices, the oils have been extracted and sold separately so they are devoid of any oil. Plus they are usually adulterated, so you need to use more to get the same result. Try ajwain/laung/zeera... just eat it raw and you'll know the difference. Your tongue will have a strong sensation after half a teaspoon of organic ajwain. Similarly, organic apples have a divine fragrance; keep a crate of organic apples in the house to find out. One problem though is that industries now do a good job of recreating the original smell. The smell of pure ghee, for example, is added in the lab. Some just add the fragrance to make you think you are buying pure ghee, whereas you could actually be buying something totally nutritionless and worthless. So be careful.

Cook Faster
     Organically grown food always cooks much faster; in fact if you are a multi-tasker, be careful as you might just burn the dish if you go out to peep in the garden while it is cooking. Food with pesticides needs to be cooked for much longer periods.

      Though not a norm in India yet, sometimes fruits and vegetables meant for exports do land up in the local market and have a sticker on them that can be checked. (4 digit PLU — price look up code  the sticker basically means grown with pesticides; 5 digit codes starting with 8 means GM grown, 5 digit codes starting with 9 means organically grown. In India, we basically have the regular 4 digit PLU which indicates that it is grown with pesticides).

Shelf Life
      It is a myth that organic fruits and vegetables spoil faster; stored in a refrigerator they last for a long time.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

An Article on Thannal Hand sculpted homes

courtesy :

Biju Bhaskar is promoting the concept of 

natural building through his venture, Thannal

Architecture does not just entail the construction of a building, but it is the setting up of a philosophy, thought process, values, and ideals. While conventional architectural models may be an inanimate block of concrete and cement that are ‘finished’ at the end of the erection; there are, however, alternate forms of edifices that are more alive through their symbiosis with nature. And Thannal is one such body that works for the assimilation of nature with human dwellings.

Biju Bhaskar worked in regular architecture for a long duration before quitting it ten years ago. He started Thannal in 2011 with the objective of trying to explore alternative architecture, which consists of green, sustainable, traditional, and vernacular architecture. “We do not compare our works with architecture, but we call it natural building. It’s a term that’s not well-known in the media. The natural building movement is gaining momentum internationally, but is not that progressed in Kerala,” he says. “We have to rethink the subject of mud architecture, which is in practice in Kerala currently, about whether we are doing it through pure sustainable methods,” says Biju, who specializes in mud architecture and operates in the village of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.

Building homes was a community-based activity where if you wanted to build your home, your friends, family, neighbors – everyone – came to help you; but today that’s not the case, and one takes huge loans to build their homes. “Kerala is a state that has a large population belonging to the high-income group, so there is a huge potential of using your money to build your home sustainably,” observes Biju. “In the current architectural scenario in Kerala, none of the materials used in building homes is from your native land. Some of the others who proclaim building mud homes are not doing it through pure natural methods, as they are mixing cement with the mud, which lessens the quality of the mud.”
Accessible to all
The beauty of mud building is that it can be built for anyone, rich or poor; the difference comes only in the finishing, says Biju. “It has been only 90 years since cement came into Kerala, and today we are in a stage where people think that they cannot do without it. But don’t we see buildings that are over a hundred years old that are still going strong – temples, churches, manas, etc.? The concrete buildings of today can last only about 20 years before cracks start developing in it. No concrete building has completed 100 years in Kerala.”

A building’s walls are like the skin on your body – they are porous and have a breathing quality, says Biju. Only the buildings of olden times had such walls and construction; they kept the building naturally cool. “Today’s buildings don’t have such a quality, and instead make the interiors of the building hot. Enormous power is used through air-conditioning to keep it cool.”
Hand in hand with nature
Another focus area for Thannal is the communion of plants and buildings. “In our research, we have found that plants have a lot of importance in buildings. The bark and sap of plants can be used in various ways in the construction of a building.” And there is no bigger example for this than Biju’s own abode, which is an earthbag home. “It has about 12 varieties of herbal ingredients in it. So the air that passes through the walls is diluted with the essence of these herbs.” Biju points out that cement companies today are one of the major sources of air pollution. The paints used nowadays are also mixed with toxins that are dangerous to people’s health.

Biju says that there are a lot of positive changes happening in India and with the younger generation of architects for the past ten years. “The green movement in agriculture – organic farming, is coming along very well, what with the involvement of renowned people such as the actor, Sreenivasan. A lot of farmers come to meet us.” But at the same time, Biju rues another fact. “What is saddening is that villagers are lured by the urban living styles and moving towards it, discarding their natural means of life. So we are building free homes for them to bring them back to it and make them realise the importance of it.”
Towards growing more villages
Biju talks about his philosophy at Thannal. “We believe that instead of growing more towns, we should grow more villages because today, the times have changed, and one need not live in an urban scenario for sustenance. Villages and pure natural building should thrive.”
At Thannal, which Biju set up with his wife Sindhu, they give a lot of prominence to research and documentation. With the aim of growing more natural builders, they hold workshops to disperse the awareness. “We have created a hub called Natural Builders of India. Those who pass out have to complete a project in two years that is completely based on natural building. I also bring two-three projects as there are no examples for students in India. And at the end of the project, each student has to bring another student to enroll in it. So according to our calculation, the natural building movement is going to bloom in five years’ time in India. ”

Biju takes up only a maximum of two or three projects in a year. Receiving volunteers from all over India, their income is only from the workshops that they hold, claims Biju. A naturally built home of 500-1,000sq ft can be completed in four to five months. The costs, naturally, are always lower than conventionally built structures.
Thannal works across India and they choose villages after extensive studies. “In our travels, we discovered that all these people who are knowledgeable about natural building in the villages, are all 70-80 years old. We are trying to revive their knowledge, for which, we are living with a master mason every year. We use local people from the particular areas, as that way, there is exchange of information.”
Biju is an avid traveller and a devotee of Ramana Maharshi. Asked why he chose to settle in Thiruvannamalai, Biju says, “It is a place of gurus and a place for self-enquiry. It is one among the Pancha Bhoota Sthalam, and is symbolic of fire. And all gurus have taught that one should build mud houses.”

Friday, 29 December 2017


Very glad to say ABCD FARMING on google.

The land ploughed thoroughly. where my father helped with this land preparation. The water drained in the pathway of Lake. Ready to put pipeline. but it still takes another Fifteen days.

Just confused between methods to undergo. whether to take market gardening or mono farming.

However planning to build a cob house which will be used as a mini party hall. I like use locally available materials.

Looking for some innovative ideas to be self sufficient...!