To hear the pundits and the weighers-in on the matter, we surely do. There is only one problem here. These are armchair detectives sitting in plush Colombo offices that crunch selectively polled numbers to say “Oh my god, we are gonna starve to death in three months because we have no money to import the things we need to import and no money to buy fuel to transport the things we grow”.
Well folks, we might have a food understanding problem. We may have a food availability problem. BUT? We certainly do not have a food crisis. We certainly do not have a food security issue.
What a load of hogswallop I ask you.
Good people, Sri Lanka is one of the richest countries in terms of the sheer type, density and distribution of agro-bio-assets. We have over 550 unique food species of which over half have medicinal properties and of which 90% are rich in nutrient density. These cover everything we need and come in the form of grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, roots, leaves, medicines, fungi and animals.
Those are so rich that they provide enough and more major nutrients, micronutrients and energy – the three things we need to maintain healthy bodies. Additionally, many of them are uncultivated so they cost us nothing. For example, jackfruit is one of the richest in all three categories and no one has ever had to go an actually establish a jackfruit plantation because they are abundant across the country. They are more than able to give every single citizen in the country more than enough of the so-called “major food groups” that are the darling of the FAO.
So, why are all these pundits getting their knickers in a twist? Well, the reason is that they are only looking at about 50-60 of those foods or the same stale bunch of stuff one gets in a supermarket. If questioned, they may push it a bit further to say a little over 100.
Let us remember without fear or favour, that when the financial crisis hit, the only people who are in “crisis” are the people living in urban enclaves who never planted even a weed to save their lives and of those, only the urban poor and to some extent, the urban lower middle classes.
The rural communities simply resorted to doing what they should have done before. First they started to forage, next they started to eat the things they grew and finally, they started to share with each other what they produced in their own homesteads, gardens, plots, patches and fields. In fact, they have now started to eat much better than they ever did before – and cheaper too.
Why are we then thinking, “oh god, we don’t have enough money to import corn or grow the darn thing to make the feed that will allow the chickens to keep laying so we are going to be short of eggs and then we will have no cheap source of protein” when we all know that one single jackfruit seed has the same nutrients as an egg, it cost nothing to grow and can be readily accessed by pretty much anyone in the country with each person able to eat 20 jackfruit seeds a day (or 20 eggs equivalent) without putting any pressure on the jackfruit availability?
Why are we thinking “oh god, we don’t have enough money to import fertilizer to cultivate rice so we are going to have everyone starving” when we all know that we can get 30 times the nutrients by eating just a handful of millets which can be grown with hardly any water, requires minimal care and no fertilizer at all?
Why are we thinking “oh god, we have a nation of which 50% of the adult population are diabetic who will not have medicines because we do not have enough money to import drugs” when we all know that our medicinal systems have solved the diabetic problem yonks ago and the remedies and life changes required to bring about a complete cure are just a reach away in terms of medicinal foods?
To put it in a nut-shell, why are we thinking “oh god what will we eat now that the seven isles of a supermarket that held imported “processed foods” and the fruit section that only had imported fruit items are too expensive to buy when we know that we can have wholesome meals that combine the best underutilized and uncultivated foods for a fraction of the cost of imported things that only provide some iffy thing called nutrients written in tiny letters across the packaging?
Because we never knew we had hundreds of foods to choose from and yet blindly believed we have less than 100. Because we were told that if something was local it was not “hi-fi” enough. Because we were given an artificial lifestyle that served only the bigger business interests and the comis-kakkas (commission crows). Because we were told that we were not good enough and to be good enough we had to espouse western thinking, western greed, western ideas of what is right and what is wrong.
Because we have never known the nutritional value of a durian shell curry.
Because we have never ever known the properties of avocados as a fruit or as an ingredient for mixing with other foods or the micronutrient power of its seed as a source of powder/flour.
Because we have not heard of the memory enhancement power of lunuwila.
Because we have never reflected on the fact that millet is a food of the gods whereas rice is the food of the devil.
Because we have been hoodwinked into thinking that an enabled and high quality Sri Lanka ate three meals of rice a day when our traditional practices would have been aghast at the sheer lunacy of such an idea in a country that had more than 40 varieties of far more emerging and far more nutritious grains to choose from.
Because we are dumb.
We are dumb because we have been taught to be dumb. Because we have been coerced into being dumb. Because we have been driven and manipulated into being dumb. With these types or riches available in abundance for free, we are taught to be helpless. We are taught that our only salvation comes from a handout from some other nation, for foods imported from some other nation.
We never gave ourselves a chance because we never took ourselves seriously and as long as we keep allowing the pundits and politicians to keep telling us that we are nothing, we are in that self-imposed hell of learned helplessness. We are dead to great choices because great choices have been systematically killed by every sick traitor who is a mouthpiece for external interests.
“We can do this by ourselves with no help whatsoever”
That statement itself should send warning bells to every single apology for a Sri Lankan who has tried his or her best to sell our nation for their personal day in the sun. Let us take no more of this. It should send a snike of alarm into every donor and donor driven NGO because if the nation espouses that idea of self-emancipation, we won’t need the darn handouts from either the IMF or pretty much anyone else. Let us #takebacksrilanka.