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Wellness consultant Naini Setalvad says organic foods are safe and sustainable

Our food choices affect not just our bodies but the future of life on earth. At present, most of us are unaware of the toxic poisons accumulating in food chains, poisoning us and our earth for many generations to come.

Toxic food

What you eat is what you are. Indeed, our energy comes directly from what we eat and food, just like us, is a living entity. Its energy comes from the sun and its nutrients come from the earth. Thus, all that we consume must support conservation that indirectly helps support our heath.

Many foods are laden with chemicals, preservatives, colours and taste enhancers, are highly processed, and are topped with bad fat, white flour, and white sugar. Further, growth hormones are pumped into foods to increase their shelf life. All this has a profound effect not only on ecology but human health—mental and physical.

Dangerous for silvers

Most unfortunately, elders who are constantly exposed to these dangers are less able to eliminate the poisons from their body, resulting in lowered immunity and increased vulnerability to disease. To make matters worse, obesity is also on the rise among this demographic. Thus, as one ages, exposure to these toxins can permanently alter the way an individual’s biological system operates. In fact, when food consumption is ‘antinature’ in old age, there is a higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, breathing problems, degenerative diseases, dementia, Alzheimer’s and even cancer. Therefore, it is an imperative that seniors make a shift in their food habits to reduce the risk of degenerative diseases.

Getting it right

In my view, taking charge of yourself and the planet begins at the end of your spoon as earth care and self care go hand in hand. Add more plant-based, seasonal, local and organic foods to your diet as none of them tamper with nature. Eat fresh and unprocessed fruits, vegetables, whole grains and pulses that are grown without fertilisers and pesticides, and free-range eggs, organic dairy products and organically farm-bred animal protein produced without growth regulators and livestock feed additives. And, yes, throw out the white flour, white sugar, fried foods and sweets!

The organic way

Organic food is sustainable, safe and free of disease-promoting chemicals, preservatives and pesticides. And in addition to preserving the nutrients in your food and protecting individual health, organic farming is better for the environment—it protects the climate; it is better for the flora and fauna, the soil, and animal reproduction; and it produces higher yields in drought conditions.

Organic food is more expensive but I believe it is worth spending a little more to benefit not only your health but the environment too. The truth is, we are getting what we are paying for, a good quality item that is nutritious and safe for us to eat. And it will give you more energy, boost your mood, and prevent, retard and reverse diseases.

Today, especially in the metros, a host of organic brands have flooded the market. But one needs certification to be sure if they are authentically organic. The brands I am confident about are Conscious Foods and 24 Lettered Mantra as they offer good quality at a competitive price.

All considered, your food choices reflect your attitude to life and to the world. You have always fed your family with love; now feed yourself with confidence with food choices that are safe and save the planet. Go organic—and give yourself and future generations the legacy of good health.


Serves 4; Preparation time: 25 minutes


  • Organic brown rice: 150 gm; raw
  • French beans: 150 gm; finely chopped
  • Tomatoes: 200 gm; finely chopped
  • Green capsicum: 100 gm; finely chopped
  • Organic cinnamon stick: ½ inch
  • Organic cloves: 2
  • Organic cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 5-6
  • Ghee: 1 tsp
  • Lemon: 1
  • Green coriander: ½ cup; finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

Boil the rice, put it in a bowl and set aside. Now boil the French beans and leave aside. Take ghee in a kadhai (wok), add cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds. Once the spices crackle, add curry leaves. Then add capsicum and sauté for a few seconds. Add tomatoes and French beans and cook for a few more seconds. Add salt and cooked rice and mix well. Allow it to cook for 10 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice on top and mix again. Garnish with chopped green coriander and serve hot.


Serves 4; Preparation time:5 minutes


  • Organic mangoes: 2
  • Coconut: 1 tbsp; grated
  • Green chilli: 1; finely chopped
  • Mint leaves: a few

Peel and chop the organic mangoes. Add grated coconut, green chilli and mint leaves. Toss well and serve cold.


Serves 4; Preparation time: 10 minutes


  • Poha (beaten rice): 100 gm; preferably unpolished brown poha
  • Cucumber: 200 gm; finely chopped
  • Tomatoes: 250 gm; finely chopped
  • Raw mango (optional): 50 gm; finely chopped
  • Coriander leaves: 4 tbsp; finely chopped
  • Olives: 6-8; sliced
  • Sweet chutney: 8 tbsp
  • Green chutney: 4 tbsp

Soak the poha for 15-20 minutes. Drain out the excess water and keep aside for 10 minutes to further drain out the water. Transfer the poha to a bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber, olives, coriander leaves, raw mango, sweet chutney and green chutney to the bowl. Mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

Setalvad is an obesity and lifestyle disease consultant who offers diet counselling at Health for You, a wellness clinic in Mumbai, as well as online. Visit for more details or write to if you have any queries for her

Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
July 2017