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Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna joins Amritsar Farmers for Diwali at ‘Organic Diwali Farmers Fest’

More farmers are now shunning chemicals to produce non-toxic food

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Picture of Vikas Khanna with Subhashish Bharukha. Wikimedia Commons

Amritsar, October 31, 2016: Michelin Star chef Vikas Khanna opted to be a surprise visitor at the ‘Organic Diwali Farmers Fest’ here on the occasion of Diwali on Sunday to promote organic farming.

Khanna, who originally hails from Amritsar and is now an internationally acclaimed master-chef, headed straight for the event after landing at the international airport here, President of Dilbir Foundation and chair EcoAmritsar Gunbir Singh said.

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The fest was part of the weekly marketplace of organic products held by the Dilbir Foundation.

“A divine effort has been made in my city and I am delighted to have witnessed it,” Khanna said after visiting the marketplace.

“He tasted salted chhaach made from cow’s milk and marvelled at the taste. He also appreciated other items,” Gunbir Singh said.

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The marketplace on Sunday had a potter spinning out fresh diyas for Diwali, along with other clay and terracotta products.

Exotic vegetables such as broccoli, red and yellow capsicums, delicious and golden variety apples, as well as fresh kiwi from farms were new additions to the fest.

“Most satisfying is the excitement in the farm circles about a growing demand for natural produce, and more farmers are now willing to shun chemicals and get into the pure foods movement by producing non-toxic foods,” Gunbir Singh said.

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Sikh holy city Amritsar is about 250 km from Chandigarh. (IANS)

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Benefits of Organic Soaps & Shampoo | Beauty Tips

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Organic Soaps
Benefits of Organic Soaps & Shampoo | Beauty Tips

Benefits Of Organic Soaps & Shampoo: Save your skin and body from the harmful chemical based daily care products. Opt for organic soaps and shampoos which do not take away the natural elements from your skin but enhance it in a safe way, say experts.

Amit Sarda, Managing Director, Soulflower and Anupama Malhotra, Founder of Vert (both brands produce natural handmade skincare products) have pointed out the pros of using organic soaps and shampoos:

Here Are Some Benefits Of Organic Soaps & Shampoo:

* Organic shampoos and soaps are manufactured in a smoke free environment and are 100 percent vegetarian that contain no animal fat.

Organic products are made from the derivatives of plants, its fruits or even flowers and they’re completely free from SLS or other chemical preservatives. So there is zero chance that someone would suffer because of using a natural product.

Conventional soaps and shampoos may feel effective but an understanding of the ingredients list on the packaging may inform you that they are in fact more harmful than good. The most common of these chemicals that do a lot of harm to the body is sodium laurel sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate (SLS).

You may also find on the list other chemicals like Triclosan which is essentially a harmful pesticide and Dioxane which is a carcinogen and which really are causing a slow and permanent damage to your skin.

* They are not tested on animals.

* Ingredient quality is the primary difference between organic and conventional products. Organic products gently infuse your hair follicles and skin cells with natural minerals, herbal extracts, and oils.

Natural ingredients such as organic tea tree can help address skin conditions such as dandruff and scalp irritation.

* When you use organic shampoos and conditioners, you’re also helping the environment by letting biodegradable substances go down the drain instead of harsh chemicals.

* Chemical based products have a strong tendency to scrape out the natural oil from the scalp and cause damage by making hair strands dry, dull and fall-prone. A natural shampoo bar will never rid the scalp of its oils that are inherently necessary for providing nutrition to the hair.

It will only enhance the texture of the hair and where deficient, it will provide the required nourishment for a strong hair and a healthy scalp.(IANS)

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Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Brand Ambassador for Food Street at World Food India event

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World Food India Ambassador
Sanjeev Kapoor. Pixabay

New Delhi, Sep 21, 2017: Popular chef Sanjeev Kapoor on Wednesday was named brand ambassador for Food Street, a curated food experience zone at the forthcoming World Food India event.

World Food India is a three-day mega international event covering the entire food processing value chain.

Food Street, being held by Ministry of Food Processing Industry, will be hosted for the first time in India from November 3, a statement said.

The experiential platform will celebrate and bring together culinary practices, flavours and fragrances from cuisines across the world, and Indian elements to create fusion food.

Also Read: Offbeat Blend of Food and Ambiance: Know About These Weirdest Restaurants Here! 

“I am honoured to be associated with a platform such as Food Street that celebrates food as a means of bringing together cultures, heritage and business… I am excited to be a part of an event of this stature and scale, being hosted for the first time in India, that is sure to delight every foodie’s palate,” Kapoor said.

To this, Union Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal added: “We want to curate a platform that not only celebrates food and cultural diversity, but also provides an avenue for countries and entrepreneurs to collaborate and interact for new business opportunities.”

Food Street will also provide an opportunity to generate new product development initiatives and drive business for budding entrepreneurs. It is also aimed at building a sustainable agri-business where the attendees will get to know about the process of organic farming and the plethora of opportunities it holds in trade.

The sessions will also involve panel discussions among experts to discuss the future of super-foods and organic farming. (IANS)

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Mexico City’s Famed Floating Farms, Chefs Team Up to Save Fading Tradition

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A variety of lettuce grows on a floating farm known as a "chinampa" in Xochimilco, Mexico City, July 13, 2017.
  • Xochimilco in Mexico is known as ‘Mexican Venice’ and is home the popular floating gardens
  • The capital is conferred by the UNESCO as World Heritage Site
  • The floating gardens’ Chinampa farming and its cultivation techniques dates back to the pre-Columbian era hundreds of years ago

At dawn in Xochimilco, home to Mexico City’s famed floating gardens, farmers in muddied rain boots squat among rows of beets as a group of chefs arrive to sample sweet fennel and the pungent herb known as epazote.

By dinner time some of those greens will be on plates at an elegant bistro 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the north, stewed with black beans in a $60 prix-fixe menu for well-heeled diners.

Call it floating-farm-to-table: A growing number of the capital’s most in-demand restaurants are incorporating produce grown at the gardens, or chinampas, using ancient cultivation techniques pioneered hundreds of years ago in the pre-Columbian era.

While sourcing local ingredients has become fashionable for many top chefs around the globe, it takes on additional significance in Xochimilco, where a project linking chinampa farmers with high-end eateries aims to breathe life and a bit of modernity into a fading and threatened tradition.

“People sometimes think [farm-to-table] is a trend,” said Eduardo Garcia, owner and head chef of Maximo Bistrot in the stylish Roma Norte district. “It’s not a trend. It’s something that we humans have always done and we need to keep doing it, we need to return to it.”

A farmer moves his harvest of squash flowers through the channels of Xochimilco in Mexico City, July 13, 2017.

Xochimilco, on the far southern edge of Mexico City, is best-known as the “Mexican Venice” for its canals and brightly colored boats where locals and tourists can while away a weekend day listening to mariachi music and sipping cold beers.

It has also been a breadbasket for the Valley of Mexico since before the Aztec Empire, when farmers first created the “floating” islands bound to the shallow canal beds through layers of sediment and willow roots.

There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world, and Xochimilco is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

But that World Heritage status and Xochimilco itself are threatened by the pollution and encroaching urbanization that plague the rest of the sprawling metropolis.

Enter Yolcan, a business that specializes in placing traditionally farmed Xochimilco produce in Mexico City’s most acclaimed restaurants Those include places like Gabriela Camara’s seafood joint Contramar and Enrique Olvera’s Pujol, which is perhaps the country’s most famous restaurant and regularly makes lists of the world’s best.

Yolcan has been around since 2011, but it’s only in the last year that business has really taken off with the number of restaurant partners increasing by a third during that period to 22. Last month five of them teamed up with Yolcan for dinner to benefit chinampa preservation.

Ichiro Kitazawa, a chef at the Japanese restaurant Rocoi, inspects herbs on a floating garden known as a “chinampa” in Xochimilco in Mexico City, July 13, 2017.

The company directly manages its own farmland and also partners with local families to help distribute their goods, lending a much-needed hand as an intermediary.

“The thing about the chinampa farmer is that he does not have the time to track down a market or a person to promote his product,” said David Jimenez, who works a plot in the San Gregorio area of Xochimilco. “Working the chinampas is very demanding.”

All told Yolcan’s operation covers about 15 acres (6 hectares) and churns out some 2.5 tons of produce per month. Due to the high salinity of the soil drawn from canal beds, the straw-covered chinampa plots are particularly fertile ground for root vegetables and hearty greens like kale and chard.

Diners reserve weeks in advance for a coveted table at Maximo Bistrot, one of three restaurants Garcia runs. Meticulously prepared plates of chinampa-grown roasted yellow carrots with asparagus puree arrive at the table, accompanied by sea bass with green mole sauce and wine pairings in tall glasses.

Chef Eduardo Garcia, founder of Maximo Bistrot and former migrant worker in the US, cuts mushrooms at his restaurant in Mexico City, July 13, 2017.

Garcia estimated he gets about two-thirds of his ingredients from Yolcan or other organic farms nearby. He was born in a rural part of Guanajuato state where his family raised corn and largely ate what they grew, so sourcing local is second-nature.

“I think all of the world’s restaurants should make it a goal to use these alternative ingredients,” Garcia said, stirring a pot of beans flavored with the aromatic epazote herb. “Even though it’s a little more expensive, a little more difficult to find.”

Chinampa produce generally sells for 15 to 100 percent more than comparable goods at the enormous Central de Abasto, the go-to wholesale market for nearly all of Mexico City’s chefs that is so monolithic its competition sets prices across the country.

But chefs who buy from Yolcan are happy to pay a premium knowing they’re getting vegetables free of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and also supporting a centuries-old tradition.

Diners at Maximo Bistrot also said they enjoyed their meal, especially the burrata with chinampa-grown heirloom tomatoes. One couple said they are willing to pay the prices of these high-end eateries in order to have the best produce.

“We’ve eaten in 26 countries around the world, and for the price and quality, this was awesome,” said Kristin Kearin, a 35-year-old masseuse from United States. “I honestly think that using small producers is going to come back.” (VOA)