Tuesday, May 30, 2017

An Expat Perspective on Why You Should Grow Your Own Organic Fruit and Vegetables in Sri Lanka

I was reading an article a few days ago titled, "SL fruits could fetch better prices in int’l markets" that reinforced my concerns about food safety in Sri Lanka. In this article, an Agriculture Economist at the Ministry of Agriculture was quoted as saying "Sri Lanka has a better chance to gain good market prices for fruit exports in the international market compared to other South Asian countries due to local farmers using minimal quantities of agro –chemicals for fruit production unlike in vegetables".  

The fact that agro-chemicals are used heavily in food production in Sri Lanka isn't news to me. But, to have it confirmed and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture is another matter. I've been concerned about this for some time and have written a few blog posts on this topic. If you haven't read these, then check out "How safe (or toxic) is the food we grow and eat in Sri Lanka?" and "Sri Lanka: Pint-sized Plastic Garbage Island?"

Food safety is probably one of the main reasons that would force me to leave Sri Lanka. The only reason I haven't done so is because I've taken food matters into my own hands by growing my own organic produce. Concern over chemically-treated food and GM crops has been greatly debated in Sri Lanka and across the globe. It is undoubtedly a global issue, so moving to another country will have similar challenges though possibly less apparent due to government spin, posh wrapping and deceptive labeling.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sri Lankan Hand Jobs - Reasons Why You Should Eat With Your Hands

One of the mainstay Sri Lankan customs is the gentle art of eating with your hand. If you want to eat like a local then this is something you'll want to put into practice. Eating by hand is a custom in many areas of the world, including parts of Asia and much of Africa and the Middle East. I've seen a rough estimate suggesting that between one and two billion people worldwide eat primarily with their hands. This might come as a surprise to those who have never come across this custom and/or are conditioned to eat with cutlery, such as spoons, knives and forks or even chopsticks.

My first introduction to the "Sri Lankan hand job" was on a visit to my friend Chathurika's home. In fact, my reaction to the sight that greeted me in her kitchen was somewhat hilarious as I caught her being hand fed by her mother.  Given that Chathurika was well-past her teenage years, I was gobsmacked by the sight of (1) a grown woman being fed her mother and (2) the fact she was being fed by hand. I think my mouth dropped open and stayed open catching flies until they both realized I wasn't actively participating in their banter. I genuinely thought it was really sweet they had such a close relationship, but seeing it for the first time was a bit of a shock as it was so far removed from what I was used to.

Since that time I've become much more accustomed to seeing people eating with their hands, as well as eating by my own hand. Admittedly, it did take me awhile to get the hang of it and I will say I'm still probably not as smooth doing it as a local.