Is Collective Wisdom always Correct?

At the starting point of human evolution timeline, the progress was very slow and full of dangers. Learning was at the cost of many human lives. In the beginning, man was a hunter and did not have a stable life. He was always on the move because animals which he hunted were also capable of running. Life of hunting was not easy.
They were on lookout for more stable life. To be able to stay put at one place. For this, humans had to enable themselves replace their diet with grains and cereals which could be grown near their abodes. As we know there must had been plenty of vegetation all around. But today we know that all of it is not suitable for animal consumption. Plants have been here from the beginning and since they could not move from one place to another to defend themselves, their defense mechanism was already in place for survival. As a result only a few of the plants are useful.
Humans did not know what was good for eating and what was not good. It was all a hit and trial process with some of them scarifying their lives. But with the passage of time, information begun to build up and thus the present generation was better equipped than the previous one. Now we have reached a stage where a huge treasure of knowledge is at our disposal.
So have we become so wise and knowledgeable that we cannot commit mistakes? The answer is sadly no. we are committing mistakes. One reason is that we work in groups with members having all shades of knowledge. Thus the resultant knowledge is averaging out.
Take for example the green revolution in the North India particularly Punjab. It saved the masses of the country from starvation. There was a great scarcity of the food grains. India was dependent on the mercy of the countries like USA and USSR. Green Revolution introduced the modified varieties of wheat and rice which have high yields. The state increased the production so much that it was able to feed all the country with food grains.
But the real results of that exercise are now becoming evident. The land was drained of all the nutrients. It was not kept any time fallow to regain the natural strength. The result was the increased use of fertilizers and insecticides. The water footprint was very high for the production of these crops. Since the river water was not sufficient, the underground was exploited up indiscriminately. Since the quality control during manufacturing was poor, many heavy metals which are very toxic slowly made their way to underground drinking water. The water table went deeper. The disastrous effects are now visible in the form of many fatal diseases affecting the children in the Punjab.
On the other hand, there were negative effects elsewhere which disturbed the equilibrium. The states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal which were naturally suited for rice production stopped or tried to change the crop patterns with negative results. So it seems that for short term Green Revolution was a blessing but in the long run it was a collective failure.

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Idyllic Life

There is a piece of uncultivated land adjacent to our building. Land is scarce in Punjab. Every inch is under cultivation. So this piece of land with uneven surface must have been purchased by some builder for construction of high rise buildings. But at present it is as it is. Grass and shrubs are growing uninterrupted in this land. On the opposite end are dense woods where poplar and eucalyptus are growing majestically. Poplars are not complicated trees. They are straight with no branches stand like the sentries at attention. The eucalyptus trees have grown so high as to touching the sky.

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During day time sunlight seem to play hide and seek with the dark in the woods. Top branches sway in the wind and there seem to something mystical in these woods. Occasionally, a bunch of peahens accompanied by a peacock stray from woods into the grass fields.There is a pool of water into which these days algae has grown and covered most of its surface. Algae is pushed from one side to other when the wind blows. Sun simmers in the water ripples.  On the nearby bushes cranes are seen sitting basking in the sun occasionally diving into the water.

Paths have been trodden in the random patterns by the people going towards woods from other end. The earth on these paths have become bald and devoid of grass. The fields are not at one plain, some are on higher plane.

Many a times, sitting at my room, I can hear the calls of some bird which become quite loud and distinctive in the night. Ilapwingn the day time if you are lucky you can glimpse these birds almost running on the ground. These birds are called “Yellow Wattled Lapwings”. They lay eggs on the ground in the pebbles. If it is very hot, the birds are seen diving into the water and sitting wet on the eggs to cool them. It is believed here that if the bird lays eggs on the higher plane, the coming days will be rainy. It the eggs are laid down in lower fields, it means the coming days shall be dry.

Gohana’s Jumbo Jalebis

India is a country of vast diversities. People of different regions have come and settled here from time immemorial. They brought with them their cuisine. As they settled here and generations passed, sense of belonging to this land pervaded. This mingling of the different elements of different cultures gave rise to fusions.

Over the time, some areas developed their unique specialties in the small corners of streets of even small towns which became a hallmark. Many such specialties particularly at small town may not be known widely as these become in the cities and big towns. You must have heard about some such shops in cities and towns across India. They’re written about often.

One such specialty is Jalebis from a town called Gohana in Sonepat district of Haryana. Some 52 years back, Haryana’s Gohana qasbah pioneered jumbo-sized jalebis. The Gohana shop is still known by its famous offering, Matu Ram ki jalebi that weighs 250 gm each. Matu started selling these giant jalebis in 1958 at Re 1 per piece. Prepared in pure desi ghee, the jalebi stays fresh for 15 days. Now, with special packs of 10 and 20 kg available. 

The Jalebis are prepared using Pure Desi Ghee for which Haryana is famous. They don’t add any artificial coloring. And 250 grams for 1 piece and sturdy and hard working village folks used to eat 4 or more in one go. These Jalebis remain fresh up to 20 days. The present owner, grandson of Mathu Ram, comment that these days four people eat 1 jalebi. Not only are these Jalebis popular with the masses, even with leaders and rich people. The former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal was very fond of the delicacy and would get them packed for self and family whenever he passed by the shop.

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For example, this Sunday chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is holding an election rally at Gohana. Already Jalebis have been ordered by the Sarpanches of villages for the participants which they will bring to the rally. The police personnel who have come from other places for duty have already purchased the sweets to avoid the last minute rush.

Castaway Plants?

They are not cultivated by the people like so many plants which decorate the homes, offices and other public places. They grow by themselves on the edges of the roads and other places wherever they get a chance. They are weeded out of the fields by the farmers to clear the land for useful crops. They are very sturdy and can survive the adverse conditions.

They are like the poor children who have no access to health care amenities and sanitation facilities. Some of them who survive all the diseases become very tough and become immune to every ailment.

Almost every one ignore their existence and treat them as an undesired growth. But even then they possess certain charm which a sensitive mind cannot ignore. They may have flowers of various hues and diminutive sizes. The flowers may exude fragrances.

As they say that a plant is considered a weed until its properties are not fully known. They may have medicinal properties.

Below are the pictures of some such plants growing in our area.

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Milestones in Food Technology

18000 B.C.

Pottery vessels

Invention of pottery vessels. The earliest vessels were probably used just for cooking before the development of impermeable ceramics made them suitable for long-term storage. (“Dishwasher safe” is, however, still a work in progress.)

7500 B.C.

Agricultural revolution

The beginning of the agricultural revolution. Raising crops allowed people to shift away from a migratory existence. And with our feet up after a good meal, all sorts of other ideas started to occur to us, setting the stage for civilizations to develop.

6000 B.C.

Irrigation

The regular flooding of the Nile begat the earliest form of artificial irrigation: basin irrigation, in which water channels were allowed to flood but prevented from draining.

2500 B.C.

Pesticides

The Sumerians create the first pesticide, in the form of sulfur, which was dusted on crops. (No historical evidence is available on whether this was followed by a demand for appropriate cuneiform-tablet labeling.)

1500 B.C.

Aquaculture

The development of aquaculture in China focused on carp, leading to the accidental creation of the goldfish and the later emergence of the concomitant toilet-side funeral service.

475

The horse collar

After its invention in China, the introduction of the horse collar to Europe about 400 years later led to the horse becoming the go-to source of animal labor, replacing oxen as plow animals and leading to higher food production levels.

900 — 1300

Crop rotation

Sustainable agriculture took a huge leap forward with the introduction of three-field crop rotation, resulting in the one fact about medieval farming that modern schoolchildren are likely to retain into adulthood.

1799

Steam-powered farm machines

The slow industrialization of agriculture started with the introduction of fixed steam-powered machinery for threshing wheat. Making this machinery more and more portable would lead to the first farm tractors.

1810

Canning

Glass bottles were initially used for canning, but it is Philippe de Girard’s invention of the tin can that really put this food technology on the map. (The invention is often attributed to de Girard’s French friend Peter Durand, who secured the English patent on de Girard’s behalf, as France and England were inconveniently at war at the time.)

1836

Gas stoves

The first gas stove factory opens. The stoves give chefs a much greater degree of temperature control in cooking but would ultimately lead to the deep charcoal-versus-propane barbeque schism.

1849

Artificial flavors

The advent of organic chemistry opened the door to artificial flavors, although not without some misfires, such as the promotion of nitrobenzene, once considered usable as a replacement for bitter almonds in confectionary with “perfect safety.” Alas, it’s now known to be a toxin capable of causing kidney, liver, and brain damage.

1851

Refrigeration

Artificial refrigeration made it possible to warehouse food for long periods of time and transport it over previously impossible distances, such as with the SS Dunedin, the first refrigerated cargo ship to be commercially successful. In 1882 it carried meat from New Zealand to London.

1855

Can opener

Forty-five years after the invention of the tin can, the other shoe drops with the invention of the can opener.

1864

Pasteurization

The introduction of pasteurization was a huge leap forward for food safety, if something of a sad moment for cheese gourmets.

1879

Artificial sweeteners

Saccharin, the world’s first artificial sweetener, is discovered by accident when chemist Constantin Fahlberg forgets his parents’ advice and doesn’t wash his hands properly before eating.

1889

Instant coffee

Recent research shows that instant coffee, the bane and blessing of modern office life, was first created by David Strang in New Zealand—not, as previously believed, in 1901 by Satori Kato in Chicago.

18000 B.C.

Pottery vessels

Invention of pottery vessels. The earliest vessels were probably used just for cooking before the development of impermeable ceramics made them suitable for long-term storage. (“Dishwasher safe” is, however, still a work in progress.)

7500 B.C.

Agricultural revolution

The beginning of the agricultural revolution. Raising crops allowed people to shift away from a migratory existence. And with our feet up after a good meal, all sorts of other ideas started to occur to us, setting the stage for civilizations to develop.

6000 B.C.

Irrigation

The regular flooding of the Nile begat the earliest form of artificial irrigation: basin irrigation, in which water channels were allowed to flood but prevented from draining.

2500 B.C.

Pesticides

The Sumerians create the first pesticide, in the form of sulfur, which was dusted on crops. (No historical evidence is available on whether this was followed by a demand for appropriate cuneiform-tablet labeling.)

1500 B.C.

Aquaculture

The development of aquaculture in China focused on carp, leading to the accidental creation of the goldfish and the later emergence of the concomitant toilet-side funeral service.

475

The horse collar

After its invention in China, the introduction of the horse collar to Europe about 400 years later led to the horse becoming the go-to source of animal labor, replacing oxen as plow animals and leading to higher food production levels.

900 — 1300

Crop rotation

Sustainable agriculture took a huge leap forward with the introduction of three-field crop rotation, resulting in the one fact about medieval farming that modern schoolchildren are likely to retain into adulthood.

1799

Steam-powered farm machines

The slow industrialization of agriculture started with the introduction of fixed steam-powered machinery for threshing wheat. Making this machinery more and more portable would lead to the first farm tractors.

1810

Canning

Glass bottles were initially used for canning, but it is Philippe de Girard’s invention of the tin can that really put this food technology on the map. (The invention is often attributed to de Girard’s French friend Peter Durand, who secured the English patent on de Girard’s behalf, as France and England were inconveniently at war at the time.)

1836

Gas stoves

The first gas stove factory opens. The stoves give chefs a much greater degree of temperature control in cooking but would ultimately lead to the deep charcoal-versus-propane barbeque schism.

1849

Artificial flavors

The advent of organic chemistry opened the door to artificial flavors, although not without some misfires, such as the promotion of nitrobenzene, once considered usable as a replacement for bitter almonds in confectionary with “perfect safety.” Alas, it’s now known to be a toxin capable of causing kidney, liver, and brain damage.

1851

Refrigeration

Artificial refrigeration made it possible to warehouse food for long periods of time and transport it over previously impossible distances, such as with the SS Dunedin, the first refrigerated cargo ship to be commercially successful. In 1882 it carried meat from New Zealand to London.

1855

Can opener

Forty-five years after the invention of the tin can, the other shoe drops with the invention of the can opener.

1864

Pasteurization

The introduction of pasteurization was a huge leap forward for food safety, if something of a sad moment for cheese gourmets.

1879

Artificial sweeteners

Saccharin, the world’s first artificial sweetener, is discovered by accident when chemist Constantin Fahlberg forgets his parents’ advice and doesn’t wash his hands properly before eating.

1889

Instant coffee

Recent research shows that instant coffee, the bane and blessing of modern office life, was first created by David Strang in New Zealand—not, as previously believed, in 1901 by Satori Kato in Chicago.

1892

Petroleum-powered tractor

The invention of the petroleum-powered tractor would sweep away the centuries-long association of horses and farming in a just a few decades, and so inspire several poignant James Herriot stories.

1893

Electric toasters

Although beginning a breakfast revolution, early electric toasters had a habit of melting their heating elements.

1893

Electric toasters

Although beginning a breakfast revolution, early electric toasters had a habit of melting their heating elements.

1893

Electric stove

The electric stove was a breakout hit of the Chicago World’s Fair, as part of the Electric Kitchen Exhibit. “Kitchen of the Future!” exhibits have remained a fixture of such fairs ever since.

1913

Haber-Bosch process

The Haber-Bosch process for producing ammonia allowed nitrogen-based fertilizer to be synthesized on an industrial scale. The result was incredible growth of the food supply—globally, 40 percent of the protein in our diets is due to the Haber-Bosch process—which in turn fueled human population growth.

1927

Sliced bread

Setting a new benchmark for bright ideas, Otto Frederick Rohwedder invents a machine for slicing loaves.

1930

Frozen food

The fruits of refrigeration are brought home with the first retail sales of prefrozen food, laying the groundwork for its apotheosis 53 years later, in the form of the Hot Pocket.

1930 — 1940

Battery cages

Originally intended to improve the welfare of chickens, the introduction of tightly confining battery cages in the 1930s led to abuses that has resulted in many countries banning them in recent years.

1939

DDT

DDT’s effectiveness as a pesticide is discovered. Following World War II, it is applied worldwide. Later, its use is severely restricted after its environmental toxicity becomes evident.

1947 — 1949

Food extruders

By cooking and shaping food simultaneously, extruders made the mass production of many modern snacks, cereals, and processed cheeses possible. This forever transforms the eating habits of children left to fend for themselves on Saturday mornings while their parents try to get a bit of a lie-in.

1947

Microwave ovens

Two years after radar engineer Percy Spencer discovers a melted chocolate bar in his pocket after working on an active antenna, the first microwave ovens go on sale, another seminal step toward the creation of Hot Pockets.

1951

Animal antibiotics

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the use of antibiotics in animals, including prophylactic use in feed. This looks to have been another bad idea, with current concerns about drug resistance prompting FDA attempts to reduce the use of animal antibiotics.

1954

Teflon

Teflon was discovered in 1938, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that it was used to coat frying pans. Shortly thereafter, “Use the plastic spatula!” would become a universal cri de coeur in kitchens around the world.

1957

Irradiated food

The first commercially irradiated foods are sausage spices produced by a plant in Germany. The process was banned by the German government in 1959. However, the technology was taken up elsewhere, ultimately allowing irradiated apples to provide the best joke in the 2002 zombie-apocalypse classic 28 Days Later.

1958

Instant noodles

With Japan still suffering from postwar food shortages, Momofuku Ando invents instant noodles as an alternative to bread, feeding generations of college students, editorial assistants, and open-source programmers.

1961

Asceptic packaging

Tetra Pak launches its aseptic packaging. Combined with the later introduction of the Tetra Brik, it had a huge effect on how liquid foodstuffs were stored and distributed, despite occasionally drenching consumers struggling to tear open the packaging correctly.

1966

Green Revolution

The International Rice Research Institute, in the Philippines, breeds the IR8 strain. This “miracle rice” helps kick off the agricultural green revolution in developing countries, which involves modern farming techniques, including the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides.

1968

Freeze-dried ice cream

Apollo 7 is the first—and last—NASA mission to take freeze-dried ice cream into outer space, creating a staple of science museum shops everywhere.

1969

The kitchen computer

The recipe-storing Honeywell 316 Kitchen Computer is the first computer ever offered to consumers. Nobody buys one, but marketeers continue to tout the virtues of recipe retrieval throughout the home-computer revolution of the 1980s.

1972

Remote sensing

The first Landsat satellite is launched to perform remote sensing of agricultural and other resources from orbit.

1983

Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets are introduced. Sadly, it will be another 15 years before your humble timeline compiler moves to the United States and discovers the joys contained within the microwave crisping sleeve.

1991

Lean, finely textured beef

Beef Products Inc. gets the okay to sell lean, finely textured beef, later known derisively as “pink slime.”

1992

Molecular Gastronomy

The molecular gastronomy movement kicks off at a scientific workshop in Sicily, Italy. Agar, once just the gunk used to grow bacteria in petri dishes, now gets a starring role in TV cooking shows.

1994

Genetically modified food

The Flavr Savr tomato is the first genetically modified food to be licensed for human consumption. It is too costly to produce profitably.

1996

Roundup Ready

Genetically modified to be herbicide resistant, Roundup Ready soybean plants are introduced by Monsanto, provoking protest and controversy, especially in Europe.

2000

In vitro edible meat

The first in vitro edible meat (goldfish muscle) is grown as a possible food supply for astronauts on long missions. Astronauts are silent on whether they would have preferred the freeze-dried ice cream research to have continued instead.

2002

Rice genome

The genome of rice is sequenced, revealing that rice plants have more genes than human beings.

2007

Printed food

3-D printers are used to make the first printed food, hopefully marking the first step toward Star Trek–style food replicators.

1892

Petroleum-powered tractor

The invention of the petroleum-powered tractor would sweep away the centuries-long association of horses and farming in a just a few decades, and so inspire several poignant James Herriot stories.

1892

Petroleum-powered tractor

The invention of the petroleum-powered tractor would sweep away the centuries-long association of horses and farming in a just a few decades, and so inspire several poignant James Herriot stories.

1892

Petroleum-powered tractor

The invention of the petroleum-powered tractor would sweep away the centuries-long association of horses and farming in a just a few decades, and so inspire several poignant James Herriot stories.

1892

Petroleum-powered tractor

The invention of the petroleum-powered tractor would sweep away the centuries-long association of horses and farming in a just a few decades, and so inspire several poignant James Herriot stories.

1892

Petroleum-powered tractor

The invention of the petroleum-powered tractor would sweep away the centuries-long association of horses and farming in a just a few decades, and so inspire several poignant James Herriot stories.

1892

Petroleum-powered tractor

The invention of the petroleum-powered tractor would sweep away the centuries-long association of horses and farming in a just a few decades, and so inspire several poignant James Herriot stories.

About the Power of Breathing

Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Breathing is our life. It goes on unnoticed until we are having some problem with our body. It is our constant companion from the time we are born and till the time we leave this world. Following our body breathing can calm our mind.

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, and peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh has led an extraordinary life. Born in central Vietnam in 1926 he joined the monkshood at the age of sixteen.

He tells us about breathing like this. The breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in. Regardless of our internal weather- our thoughts, emotions and perceptions- our breathing is always with us like a faithful friend. Whenever we feel carried away, or sunken in a deep emotion, or scattered in worries and projects, we return to our breathing to collect and anchor our mind.

We feel the flow of air coming in and going out of our nose. We feel how light and natural, how calm and peaceful our breathing functions. At any time, while we are walking, gardening, or typing, we can return to this peaceful source of life.

We may like to recite:

Breathing in I know that I am breathing in.

Breathing out I know that I am breathing out.”

We do not need to control our breath. Feel the breath as it actually is. It may be long or short, deep or shallow. With our awareness it will naturally become slower and deeper. Conscious breathing is the key to uniting body and mind and bringing the energy of mindfulness into each moment of our life.

Plants used for Medicinal Purposes

The different parts of many plants have been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes. History records many such observations.

The first plant is

English: Caesalpinia pulcherrima at the Desert...

Caesalpinia pulcherrima  plant. It is commonly seen in India. The studies note, contains compounds that have powerful antiviral benefits, especially effective against human herpes viruses and adenoviruses,
which cause the common cold. Caesalpinia pulcherrima prevents these viruses from replicating. Other recent studies demonstrate that extracts from the flower, stem, leaf, fruit, root, and seed of Caesalpinia pulcherrima are also effective against wheezing, bronchitis, malarial infection, tuberculosis, other bacteria, fungi, and some parasites.’ (Counter, 2006)

It is still used widely in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine and is being studied for its antiviral and antibacterial medicinal qualities.

flavo

Second plant is Flos pavonis. Some of its parts were used by the slave women to induce abortion. The Indian slave women are very badly treated by their white enslavers and do not wish to bear children who must live under equally horrible conditions. The black slave women, imported mainly from Guinea and Angola, also try to avoid pregnancy with their white enslavers and actually seldom beget children. They often use the root of this plant to commit suicide in the hope of returning to their native land through reincarnation, so that they may live in freedom with their relatives and loved ones in Africa while their bodies die here in slavery, as they have told me themselves.’ (Merian, quoted in Counter, 2006)