[First appeared on Tuesday, December 27, 2005]
At the risk of venturing on non-Kolkata subjects once too often (that’s what a few viewers told me), I want to share a piece of good news that appeared in today’s newspaper (The Economic Times, Kolkata, Dec 27).
The FDA of US has in a communiqué informed that barley products help reduce the risk of heart disease. It wants food makers who deal in barley items to start advertising the benefit on their food packages.
The reason I’m enthused is because a friend of mine who underwent mastectomy of her right breast was advised ‘barley-water’, specially so since she also has high cholesterol. Barley doesn’t taste great. In fact to make barley-water ‘drinkable’, a small addition of lemon, salt and sugar is more than usual.
There’s a palpable lack of health awareness among Indians. Though nutrition and fitness experts are found all too readily these days, most of them simply do not make the mark. Modern life being what it is, the need for proper advice on food is on the rise. The choice narrows to either going by what the product ads say or referring to newspaper columns of so-called fitness experts, many of which often running contrary to one another. Adding to confusion is a constant debate on relative merits (and demerits!) of ‘veg’ and ‘non-veg’ foods.
Yet such was not the case even a few decades back. Home-grown remedies were able to counter many common ailments. And we all felt there was wisdom in granny’s advice. Barley-water was one such ‘pearl’ that overcame many a sickness. Tinned pack of Robinson’s barley could be seen in most households. It’s another matter that we now start to understand its great virtues all over again.