Consumers at traditional food festival advised to shun junk food

A traditional food festival featuring a variety of dishes made from minor millets such as finger millet (kelvaragu), foxtail millet (thenai), kodo millet (varagu), pearl millet (kambu), and sorghum (cholam), was inaugurated by T.P. Poonachi, Minister for Khadi and Village Industries, here on Thursday.

Chief whip and MLA R. Manoharan, District Collector Jayashee Muralidharan, and Mayor A. Jaya were present at the event which was organised by the Agriculture Department. The aim of the festival was to create awareness among the public about the benefits and importance of traditional food items.

Ms. Jayashree said that today’s generation had moved away from traditional food and consumes junk food such as colas and pizzas which affected their health. “We all are awed by colas. The public should avoid such harmful items and consume traditional and healthy items such as coconut water,” she said.

Adding that dishes such as biryani, pizzas, and biscuits could be prepared from millets, apart from usual items such as idli and dosa, she said it was necessary to bring back youth and children to their roots by using millets.

Ms. Jayashree and Mr. Poonachi together released a special recipe book providing details about the dishes prepared using millets and the procedure, importance as well as benefits to preparing and consuming them.

The one-day event, held at Kalaiarangam Marriage Hall, attracted many visitors who sampled the interesting food that was made out of pulses, minor millets, and lesser known grains.

Unusual dishes such as varagu idlis, thenai pongal, multigrain laddus, haverkorral (kaadaikanni) biscuits, ragi murukkus, kelvaragu biryani, and kambu urundai, were available and a few were served in man sattis in traditional style.

Entry was free for the festival in which women’s forums, women’s self-help groups, restaurant associations, home science colleges, and government and private colleges of catering and hotel management, displayed and sold food items made of minor millets at low prices in stalls.

They educated visitors about the uses and benefits of millets.

“I never knew that there was a millet called haverkorral (kaadaikanni) and that one can make biscuits using it. This festival is useful as I learnt a lot about these traditional food items and got a chance to taste many unique dishes,” said P. Rajeswari, a housewife.

Food officers from the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), State government as well as Union government offices put up stalls where they enlightened public on the methods to detect adulterations in salt, mustard, tea powder, and pepper. People learnt not to be misled by false advertisements and the importance of paying only the MRP while purchasing items.

“I now know how to distinguish between nai kadugu and normal kadugu. It is easy to spot the difference if one uses magnifying glasses and looks closely. I understood the side effects of consuming adulterated food,” said M. Priya, student of a private college.

Competitions were conducted for the participants and prizes were distributed among the winners.