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Lathika George Writes On Methods Of Farming In India In Her New Travelogue, Mother Earth Sister Seed

  • IWB Post
  •  February 3, 2018

Lathika George is a Mumbai-born Syrian Christian from Kanjirappally in Kerala who often refers to herself as ‘an accidental cookbook writer’ since a fortuitous meeting with a publisher in New York led to the writing of her cookbook-memoir.

She is a landscape designer, environmentalist, and organic gardener who writes about travel, design, and the environment for several publications. Her new book Mother Earth Sister Seed is a travelogue that compiles methods of farming across the country. From organic farming in Chamba in Himachal Pradesh and Khasi Hills in Meghalaya to indigenous rice farming in Wayanad, Kerala, she has featured it all.

Chamba, Himachal: “Since I was there in October, I tried pickled fiddlehead ferns (they come out in spring) in brine, with wild chillies. Rich in vitamin C, B3 and manganese, they are also eaten stir-fried, like a sabzi.”

Palani Hills: “For many years now, I’ve been visiting Anita and Shaker Nagarajan on their coffee estate in the Palanis. The long, lazy days at the Pillavalli Estate are punctuated by delicious meals made with locally-sourced ingredients — curries spiced with fragrant kal pasi, a pungent flavouring lichen that grows on trees and rocks, pickled limes with green pepper, salted gooseberries and, of course, coffee.”

It was her curiosity for the old farming techniques used in India that led her to write notes about them. In fact, she shares with The Hindu that she has chosen her travel destinations based on the farms she wanted to visit.

She said that the idea of converting her notes into a book popped in a party four years ago. She explains, “The discussion at the dining table was about the futility of farming in India and the suicides that were daily headlines. Someone even said it was ruining the image of ‘India shining’. But, for me, that was far from the truth.”

“Then a friend who was browsing my notebooks said ‘this is what I’d like to read about — what you saw and ate, what you experienced….’ The idea of a travelogue came from that,” she added.

Talking about the daily life on farms, she shares her experience and says, “Daily life on a farm is exciting. Like in Meghalaya, where they receive so little aid and barely have any agricultural tools. Yet it’s one of the most enchanting places I’ve seen, with people still following old practices.”

She has chosen to stay away from covering the issue of farmers’ suicide and focused on covering and celebrating the diversity of agricultural life in India.

H/T: The Hindu

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