While English food is commonly associated with fish and chips and the Sunday roast, the Chicken tikka masala has long enjoyed equivalent popularity, if not more.
It should come as a surprise then, that when an enterprising food trader applied to serve the curry at a St George’s Day celebration, she was refused on the grounds that it was “not English enough”.
Vehemently turning down Tania Rahman’s request, the Salisbury City Council, sent her an email explaining that visitors to the event should eat “English themed food only”.
Miss Rahman, who runs an Indian street food company called Chit Chaat Chai, was “shocked and upset” with the pronouncement.
“We were dismayed to find out that our application has not been successful on the grounds that it was deemed ‘not English enough’.
“In the multicultural hotbed that is modern Britain, it is inconceivable to not celebrate the impact of Indian culture to British life and what better way to do so than by exploring the culinary delights of the former British Empire… A little history will reveal that St George himself was in fact of Palestinian heritage.
St George’s Day is a celebration of all things English, yet much of English culture (tea drinking, for instance) was adopted from India”, she said in a message on the company’s Facebook page.
She received a dismissive reply from the city council stating, “It has been decided that St Georges day [sic] will be English themed food only. I hope this helps.”
With an aim to justify the response, a spokesman of the city council said the email to Miss Rahman had been “poorly worded” and insisted: “The council never intended to be racist.
“The theme of the St George’s Day event in 2015 was olde worlde traditional English with Morris Dancers and dragon fighting. Ms Rahman has raised some very interesting points about modern England and the Council will wish to reflect upon these issues when setting the theme for the St George’s Day in 2016 and onwards.”
Chicken tikka masala was only recently supplanted as Britain’s most popular dish, after holding the title for years.
Fast-food giant McDonald’s revealed a plan to open all of its drive-thru restaurants in the UK in the coming weeks and has”not forgotten” about people in the north of England, it was reported on Monday to World and International News.
The company reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week as it prepared to get back up and running with new safety measures in place, but all of the English locations were in the south east, reports the Metro nwespaper.
In a message to customers, McDonald’s Chief Executive Paul Pomroy said: “To help us test the new procedures and to slowly restart our supply chain, the pilot restaurants in the UK are all located close to our head office and to one of our distribution centres in the south east.
“I promise I have not forgotten about any part of the UK or Ireland. We are taking our time to test the new ways of working in our restaurants, ensuring that we can continue to help our teams to work safely, and to get back to the communities we have proudly served for so many years.”
Pomroy further said that McDonald’s will make a further announcement this week about reopening more restaurants and expanding its delivery service.
Last week, Police were called to a drive-thru McDonald’s in Peterborough on the first day it reopened after easing of the COVID-19 lockdown because the queue at the outlet went out of hand.
A banker from Canada, a resort director, a top executive in a leading IT company and a senior corporate communications professional with a major hospital chain. Defying all stereotypes and preconceived notions of farmhands, an increasing number of highly qualified professionals from both genders are quitting their lucrative professions and getting back to the soil in Punjab full-time,making responsible farming their way of life.
Using social media including WhatsApp to spread the word, participating in pop-up organic farmers’ markets across the region and organising day-long farm tours, these new-age farmers, compost kit makers and teachers are ascertaining that those wanting pesticide-free food grains don’t have to look too hard.
Rahul Sharma’s wife would always laugh when on a typical IT sprint meeting call, he would be discussing his project at Flipkart, and a few hours later, talking about manure collection with a farmer.
This organic farmer who now grows cereal grains, pulses, oil seeds, turmeric and garlic at his five acre farm in Kapurthala full time, insists that the ongoing lockdown has made people aware about the importance of growing their own food, and that too pesticide-free. “But yes, if the government is serious about providing nutritional security, then it must ascertain economic benefits to farmers so they can go in for sustainable agriculture,” he stresses.
For someone who started doing organic farming in 2016, the thrill that comes with growing safe food for others is unparalled.”The fact that there is a patch of land which is now free of poison, where life thrives, and that I am contributing towards healthy soil.”
Not regretting his switch from a corporate IT job, which never allowed him to pursue his passions like photography, Sharma has now decided to streamline production and ordering process. “I have now a set rotation of crops which provide nutrition to the soil, as well as work well in the consumer market. I am also working on an online platform to make it easier for my consumers to order grains and be in touch with me,” he adds. He also lectures and interacts with school and college students at his farm about the importance of sustainable agriculture/lifestyle.
Shivraj Bhullar, who has a four-acre farm in Manimajra and grows a variety of seasonal vegetables, leafy greens and fruits left his cushy banker job in Canada to start organic farming on his piece of land in 2014 post volunteering at different farms across India to learn the ropes. “The organic farming convention that was held in the region in 2015 brought a lot of people together. Since then, the movement has been growing with greater awareness amongst consumers in this part of the country,” he says. For someone who has always been interested in Yoga and nutrition, one of the major factors that keeps him excited is the community around the organic farming movement in Punjab. “Farmers go out of their way to help each other out. It’s been a humbling and continuous learning experience for me,” he adds.
Planning to take his farm to the next level by installing a drip irrigation system and rain water harvesting for water conservation, Bhullar is all set to buy more animals so as to decrease his dependence on outside sources for manure.
Coordinator of the Chandigarh Farmers’ Market, Seema Jolly, who owns a five-acre farm in village Karoran in Punjab and grows vegetables,fruit, grains, oilseeds and pulses wants her farm to be a school for organic/natural farming, yoga and Ayurveda in the near future. One of the directors of the Baikunth Resorts Pvt Ltd, Jolly started organic farming in 2011 and there has been no looking back since then. “There is a certain joy in knowing that what you supply is not harming the consumer in any way,” she says. Instrumental in organising trips for school children to different farmers across Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, Jolly also helps small organic farmers with logistics and selling their produce. “The organic farmers market initiative, in July 2015 was a landmark in bringing relief to the marketing problems of organic farmers and encouraging more farmers to turn organic. Frankly, what is needed is small markets like these in all districts. It may take time, but people are bound to tilt towards organic if there is easy availability.”
Former National level hockey player Mohanjit Dhaliwal who has two farms — one if Ropar and another in Fathegrah Sahib, the latter being part of permaculture food forest in ‘Sanjhi Mitti Food Forest Community’, has been involved in organic farmer for more than 10 years now. Talking about the roadblocks when it comes to shifting to organic, he feels, that the government’s policy of 100 per cent wheat paddy procurement has to change. “Farmers, who used to be entrepreneurs and solutions finders are now behaving like robots.Nothing is going to change unless policy makers get out of whole process.”
Besides holding regular workshops on permaculture which is attended by people from around the country, Dhaliwal, who is working on a forest therapy centre, adds, ” Our Eco library at the farm where anyone can read or borrow books on related subjects is quite a hit with both children and adults.”
Chandigarh-based Jyoti Arora, who supplies odour-free composters in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh to houses, hotels, institutions, municipalities, and engages with Swachh Bharat teams of different municipalities, says, “I also do a lot of lecture demonstrations to sensitise people and encourage people to go green. In fact, my farming is a by product of the compost generated from my domestic waste in which the produce comes solely out of the compost.”
Everything changed for Diksha Suri, a former corporate communications head with a major hospital chain when she spent time at Auroville in 2004. “Being there and learning from experts started a journey of a more conscious approach towards the living greens and browns. I attended formal workshops and started experimenting an organic way of living,” says Suri, who, along with a friend set up Chandigarh’s first Nature Club in 2012.
From organising organic farm visits, forest walks and fossil sites for children and their parents, Suri says that she has been able to make hundreds of children conscious about what they eat. “A lot of them are now at ease with composting, growing vegetables, identifying birds, and more than anything, being in sync with nature. We now regularly hold talks and workshops on organic farming, composting, waste management, across schools, colleges and corporate offices in the region.”
Chandigarh-based Rishi Miranshah, who has made the nine-part docu-series ‘The Story of Food – A No Fresh Carbon Footprint’ which is available to watch online on Films for Action website and YouTube says, “Considering what chemicals have been doing to our food and the need to switch to organic, it was important for me to make this documentary which is an investigation, tracing the trail of devastations bringing us to the point where we are today. Food being the thread that connects us to life; and the way we obtain our food being that connects us to a way of life, the movie begins by examining our agri-culture, our very relationship with the land.” (IANS)
The UK needs to drastically cut back its meat intake to avoid a future global health crisis, a group of doctors have warned.
Plant Based Health Professionals (PBHP) said that the connection between major disease outbreaks and factory farming is being “swept under the carpet” amid the coronavirus pandemic, as they join a wave of experts urging people to go vegan, the Metro newspaper reported.
The vast majority of new infectious diseases that have appeared in humans over the past century have been caused by tampering with farmed animals and their habitats, including Swine Flu (pigs), Avian Flu (birds) and Spanish Flu (poultry).
Speaking to the Metro newspaper, PBHP founder and Consultant Haematologist at King’s College Hospital, Shireen Kassam, said that another disease outbreak was “inevitable if we do not move towards a plant-based diet”.
In the UK, demand for cheap meat has fuelled a huge expansion of factory farming – a controversial process that often sees thousands of animals being packed into small, unsanitary cages.
This “provides the perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections with epidemic and pandemic potential” as well as necessitating the widespread use of antibiotics in animals, “contributing to a crisis in antibiotic resistance among humans”, Kassam said.
“The last 100 years has shown that pandemics will continue unless we change the way we eat and how our food is produced.
“Disease is spread predominantly through confinement, we don’t have the land capacity to feed the 8 billion people on this planet free range.
“We are in this race to find an antiviral, but other than HIV, there are very few viruses where there are very effective drugs available. (A vaccine) isn’t just going to save our problems, there is a risk of a mutation that could come back in a few years.
“We need to learn from our mistakes. We need to change our land use to grow beans and legumes, we need a system change,” she told the newspaper.
Poor diets are the main cause of chronic health conditions in adults in the UK, while pre-existing health conditions such as obesity and diabetes are seen as risk factors in catching COVID-19, which has infected 252,246 peopled and killed 36,124 in the country so far.
Research from the University of Oxford last year found foods with the largest negative environmental impacts such as unprocessed and processed red meat, were linked with the largest increases in disease risk, while foods associated with improved health (whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and some vegetable oils high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil) have among the lowest environmental impacts. (IANS)