Hearty Living and Holistic Health within Arm’s Reach

Dr. D. Esther Lydia and Dr. Sheila John Assistant Professor, Food Chemistry and Food Processing, Loyola College, Chennai Associate Professor and Head (PG), Department of Home Science, Women’s Christian College, Chennai

In India, September is celebrated as the ‘National Nutrition Month’ to establish a focused and amalgamated approach towards achieving holistic nutrition. Every week of this month has been buzzing with series of activities planned by the government to make people understand how imperative dietary habits can contribute to optimal health and wellbeing. As India is kicking off the month-long celebrations, on one hand, the country is also trying to figure out a plausible solution to the problem of ‘hidden hunger’ also known as micronutrient deficiency.

To add fuel to the fire, the pandemic has accelerated this concealed state of malnutrition. Furthermore, achieving a dictum of Zero Hunger could be doubtful, unless a sustainable solution is sought for the people and the planet. Pruning off Hidden Hunger A kitchen garden could be one of the great ways to bolstering a family’s dietary needs and alleviating micronutrient deficiencies. Keeping in mind that burgeoning urban and rural families in India are unable to afford, access, and avail food produce, kitchen gardening promises food security within the household.

Above and Beyond Although, the kitchen garden springs highly nutritious vegetation like vegetables, fruits, and herbs, fitting family’s cuisine, its benefits verves beyond food security, as it aids in relieving stress, enhancing physical activity, augmenting mental wellness, fostering healing and ensuring custom-fit personalized nutrition at its core. The practice of kitchen gardening enriches family relationships, as parents and children spend time together planning, planting and harvesting. As much as, kitchen gardening being cost-effective and sustainable, it can save buying expenses, generate income that will uplift the standard of living.

You don’t need a green thumb to grow it There is no hard and fast rule for designing your potager. Your potager can take many forms, It could either be in your backyard, the balcony, or it could be a window or a terrace garden or positioned near the water drain. Yes, flower gardens are scenic and aesthetically appealing, nonetheless, incorporation of companion plantation in your kitchen garden can be equally bohemian and exquisite. Do it yourself There are ever-growing offline and online garden stores, social media platforms, which can provide the aspiring gardener with seeds, compost, and pest control products.

As a community-level intervention, the Government of Tamil Nadu, Department of Horticulture And Plantation Crops has been successfully running the do-it-yourself kit program for city dwellers to promote kitchen gardens. All you need is a proof of identity to avail at a subsidized cost. The DIY kit contains everything you need, to grow your kitchen garden: from polythene grow bags to biofertilizers, organic composts, tools, and seed kits.

The vegetable seed kit has seeds of brinjal, tomato, chillies, ladies finger, cluster beans, bush beans, radish, amaranthus, and coriander well suited to meet the daily nutrition needs. Thanks to the government’s initiatives, there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have got their hands into tilling the soil to beat lockdown blues. A first-timer can experiment with easy-to-grow greens like spinach, amaranth, methi (fenugreek), coriander, manathakkali, and over 60 edible greens which are abundant in dietary fibres, antioxidant-rich phytonutrients, vitamin A, C, K, folate and minerals like iron, calcium, etc. Consumption of these low maintenance local produce would not just solely tend to your nourishment, but it also helps prevent, and manage the double burden of malnutrition i.e. the coexistence of undernutrition with diet-related non-communicable diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and cancer.

Therefore, Let us all join hands in breaking the chain of this vicious hidden hunger among our household, by planting a kitchen garden to reduce food insecurity, improve nutritional status and strengthen family relationships.