‘Annam’ or food is considered sacred in India and traditional food cultures have their innate strengths and are often highly scientific for a given culture and region. What we eat has changed more in the last four decades, perhaps more than in the previous 4,000 years of human history. Growing, harvesting, preparing food and the age-old traditions of coming together to eat have been the focus of family and community life from time immemorial. It has been the social adhesive that has sustained communities. The gradual shift to new trends in eating, especially the rapid and pervading growth of fast food, is destroying this vital food culture. The paradox of our times is that the modern food habits are affecting the health of the populace as well as the health of our living planet. Devastating effects of corporate driven foods and farming systems have turned agriculture into an extractive industry and food into a major health hazard. We are poorer as the biodiversity of our farms disappears and as the cultural diversity of our food systems vanish. Food is not a commodity. It’s the very basis of life. Further, food production is not an industrial activity. It is a means of nurturing the people and the land. It is conserving resources. It is giving livelihoods. It is shaping a culture, and it is much more than bringing paddy or vegetables to the marketplace at a profit. There is an urgent need for a food revolution to replace the industrialized factory model of highly processed food with a sustainable system of safe and nutritious food that is ethically produced, fuels our health and is culturally acceptable.
Annam Festival is essentially an event showcasing the diverse taste of India. The modern fast lifedisrupts our habits and slowly invades the privacy of our homes, inviting the fast food culture. Annam Festival is an effort to rediscover the flavours and savours of regional cooking and expel the degrading effects of Fast Food. It is an effort to bring back the real culture of developing taste ratherthan demanding it, an effort to realise the taste of India and its advantages, and to be proud of our great agro-biodiversity that sustain our food diversity and tastes.
The call to everyone is to come together with those who produce the food we eat, ensuring that it is better, cleaner and fairer food, creating awareness and forming a group that exerts more influence in policy formulations. First Annam Festival was held at Thiruvananthapuram in 2008 and the second one at Kozhikode in 2010. The current edition of the Festival is scheduled at Kochi, the Queen of the Arabian Sea, during 3-7 December 2015.
- To popularize the concept of good food and importance of traditional food.
- To create awareness against junk food culture and its socio cultural, health and health
- To highlight the link between good food and indigenous agro-biodiversity.
- To organize exhibitions of food diversity of India
- To promote organic farming and popularize organically farmed products.
- To document and preserve recipes of traditional food (grandma’s recipes).
- To showcase the agricultural heritage of India.
- To organize seminars and workshops related to food, nutrition and agro-biodiversity.
- To create networks to promote linkages between producers and consumers of good food.
- To establish linkages and transfer the know-how of R&D centres to common man.
- Publish information materials on good food and agro-biodiversity.
Formal announcement of the event
The day and the announcer matched each other, when the formal announcement of the meaningful event was made on 1st of November, the formation day of Kerala State by Dr. Vandana Shiva, the untiring crusader. It was not merely a formal event to broadcast on the upcoming event, but an extensive deliberation by Dr. Vandana Shiva, gathering questions from the audience including journalists and providing replies convincingly. Dr. Vandana Shiva was unravelling the pitiful ironies existing in our country that on one side promotes imports of edible stuffs; and on the other side lament on the declining fate of farmers. “Needed is a judicious balance. We should see that our local wisdom and natural riches have enough quality to meet our nutritional demands. Our native food, traditional cooking styles and habits must be looked at with deserving respect and the nutritional capacities of local food must not be sidelined”, Dr. Vandana Shiva reminded.
“The Annam 2015 festival is going to happen at a crucial juncture when about 3 lakhs of our armers had committed suicide. It’s time to rewrite the system of agriculture that thwarts native prospects and thrusts for corporate gains”, Dr. Shiva said. With its theme ‘Food, Health and Youth’, the event will reiterate the place good food has in attaining good health and promising younger generation
Anna Vilambaram: Farmers, students join hands to proclaim good, local food
Unless they go beyond the four walls of a classroom, students are sure not to get the real pulse of what the world preaches on good food and local food. It was a promising turn when on a public holiday on 19th of November 2015, five hundred student from leading schools of the district gathered to listen to the words of farmers, the real stalwarts of agriculture. Hundreds of students belonging to MGM Model School, Varkala; Bharatheeya Vidya Peet, Parassala and city’s Cotton Hill Girls’ Higher Secondary School took part in Anna Vilambaram. Joining the students were a group of organic farmers from Nanniyode village. Students displayed their talent in traditional culinary by preparing certain bygone dishes of Kerala including Agathi Cheera Thoran, Muringa leaf soup, Banana flower thoran, and cooked tapioca served with chutney made from ten leaves. Multi-nutrition steam cake Puttu prepared by Haripriyan a class six student of MGM School could get large number of fans. Participants jostled to get unniyappam sold at Rs.1 each, home made by a nameless grandma whose unniyappam has got high demand at Nanniyode country market. Instead of offering floral bouquets, children welcomed guests including the minister by giving unpolluted curry leaves bouquets. Two mothers from Nanniyode Mothers’ Group presented Anna Muram containing organic vegetables to Dr. C. Suresh Kumar, General Secretary of the voluntary organization, Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA), the principal organizer of Annam 2015.
Dr. B. Padmakumar, Professor of Medicine, Thiruvananthapuram Medical College talked to children about a five-point rule regarding food. Children received with a clap his teachings on When to eat, what to eat, how to eat, where to eat and food hygiene. PA to Kerala Agriculture Minister, K.P. Ramesh Babu; Kerala Agriculture University former Director, Dr. C.K. Peethambaran; Secretary, Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Jagadish; Agriculture Officer, Nanniyode Krishi Bhavan, Jayakumar; Chief of voluntary organization, Thanal, Shridhar Radhakrishnan and Ajith Venniyur spoke. General Secretary of CISSA, Dr. C. Suresh Kumar gave welcome speech; and Head – Publication, Sivakumar K.P. proposed vote of thanks.
Annam 2015 takes on Kochi roads
Drumbeats of the good food festival resounded for the first time in the air of the emerging metro. hanks to a ‘Vilambara Jaadha’ (Propaganda Rally) held on 8th of December with the participation of hundreds of young school students. The road connecting Marine Drive to Rajendra Maidan, ochi’s one of the important arteries, received a surging enthusiasm of around 800 participants who gathered for a Propaganda Rally (Vilambara Jaadha) heralding the imminent Annam 2015 National Food and Agro Biodiversity Festival.
Good food catchphrases were written aplenty among the placards hold aloft by enthusiastic school students, well bringing the messages of Annam 2015 to the mainstream thoughts f Kochiites. “Good food is our right”, “Good people, let’s go back to nature” and “Don’t ask why good food is such expensive, but ask why the junk food is such cheaper” were some passionate slogans raised by the rally. Chairman of the Organizing Committee, N. Venugopal who is also hairman of GCDA; Secretary General, K.G. Venugopal and Coordinator, Praveen Chandran were in the front row, leading the procession. Earlier, N. Venugopal flagged off the rally.
Amrita Institute for Medical Science and Research Centre