Food

Photo feature: Straight from the farms of Uzhavar Santhai

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The morning sun lights up the sky and Singanallur Uzhavar Santhai stirs to life. Determined shoppers walk in with big bags rolled under their arms, looking for the freshest produce they can find for the day’s cooking. Vendors loudly call out to them drawing their attention to the quality of their vegetables and the competitive bargains. Labourers wind between them, with unwieldy sacks of vegetables on their backs making their way through the stalls. Some retailers quickly pick and choose what they want to buy, then zoom off with their purchases perched precariously on mopeds.

The greens are stacked up on one side, releasing a fresh, fragrant fog of mint, coriander and curry leaves. Another set of stalls boast Ooty vegetables, including carrots, cabbages, beans and a wide variety of gourds. Beside them, betel leaves are arranged in artistic spirals.

Small children importantly hold up bags so their parents can fill them with vegetables. Farmers who have brought their produce stop for a break at the tea stall. It is still chilly and the hot tea is tempting, served along with freshly made vadais and bondas. A couple of morning-runners make a quick detour to pick up veggies, then jog out.

The Uzhavar Santhai offers a glimpse of what fresh vegetables and fruits look like before they are bagged and rendered boring on supermarket shelves.

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