The rising cost of rice has become yet another reason for health-conscious residents of the city to opt for wheat.
“I purchase essential commodities at a cooperative store and even there, the rate of ponni rice is Rs. 48 a kg, which not everyone can afford. I have begun consuming chapathis in the afternoon to cut down on rice consumption. I am also encouraging my grandchildren to eat chapathis as they are healthier than rice,” said S.M. Chellaswamy, secretary general, National Alliance of Senior Citizens Associations of India.
R. Dass, a resident of Royapettah, said that he bought wheat from shops outside in addition to the 2 kg he got from the ration shop so that his family could consume chapathis.
“When good wheat from Punjab is available at Rs. 16 a kilo, why should we buy rice, which is so costly,” noted Mr. Chellaswamy. Narayanan, a senior citizen and resident of Anna Nagar, also said that his family was considering buying more wheat in place of rice.
Over the past decade, despite the diesel price hike, the cost of wheat, sourced mainly from Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, has not gone up by much. According to Sirish Bafna, partner, Bafna Sons, many south Indian families too have started consuming chapathis. “This is not something new to Chenna. There are families that have been eating chapathis for over two decades now. However, their number is increasing rapidly. People have become health conscious. Consumption of rice has come down. Wheat is presently priced at Rs. 26 – 33/kg as this is the end of the season. After Holi, the arrival of new crops will bring down the prices further,” he said.
On a daily basis, at least 20 trucks bearing 50 and 100 kg bags of wheat come to the Sowcarpet area, which is the city’s wheat basket. The city also gets wheat from Australia, the U.S. and Canada too said S. Chandresan president of TN Food Grains Merchants Association who also opined that it would be of benefit to the city’s markets and consumers if there were limits to the export of food grains.
So, are the health-conscious correct about wheat? According to Dr. Mohan, Chairman, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetics Speciality Centre, the glycemic index of white rice is higher than whole wheat or brown rice. “For diabetics, foods that have a lower glycemic index are recommended. The glycemic index of a food item is its property to increase blood glucose levels ,” he explained.
Brown rice, salads, vegetables, pulses, soya bean, moong dal, brown and whole brown bread have low glycemic indexes. “Mango has a higher glycemic index when compared to apple or guava,” he said.