Agriculture

Thanjavur Food Museum serves up culinary history with a dash of technology

FCI Food Museum showcases agriculture with the help of technology.   | Photo Credit: M Moorthy/THE HINDU

It is close to lunch when we reach Thanjavur. Just the right time to visit India’s first Food Museum, which promises to whet visitors’ appetites with the history of what we serve on our plates.

The museum has been established by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) on the ground floor of its regional office, in collaboration with Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Bengaluru.

Built at a cost of ₹1.1 crore, the 1,860 square feet museum uses technology like projection mapping, touch screens, proximity sensors, and radio frequency identification (RFID).

Watch | India's first food museum

The choice of location is significant, since Thanjavur is also the birthplace of the FCI, with its first office opening here on January 14, 1965.

Our visit begins with a seven-minute video (available in English and Tamil) shown on a projector wall, to learn about how humans went from being hunter-gatherers to food producers.

As the film reveals, the manipulation and cultivation of certain plants by human beings around 10,000 years ago, when the effects of the Ice Age receded and temperate climate ensued, led to the domestication of these strains, sowing the seeds of agriculture as we know it today.

A display in the adjoining space shows the evolution of granaries across the world. With the help of a sliding electronic reader, one can look up granaries built by the Romans, the mud rhombus of Niger, and even the gender-specific earthen structures in Mali. Closer home, the display talks about the granaries found in the temple complex of Srirangam, in the Badami fort and the Indus Valley.

A section on pests shows the perils posed by borer insects that can hollow out grains during storage.

The study of crop origins done by Russian botanist and geneticist Nikolai Vavilov (1887-1943) in the 1920s is explained in some detail in a dedicated display area, followed by an interactive map that shows the major grains, fruits and vegetables grown in India.

Young visitors will have fun placing model ‘sacks’ of pulses fitted with RFID chips on a reader to see their characteristics pop up on the big screen.

This is followed by a section on healthy diet, and an interactive food chart of India, where visitors can click on a State and watch recipe videos of two signature dishes from there. You can also find a life-size replica of a Public Distribution System (PDS) ration shop.

Interactive displays at the FCI Food Museum in Thanjavur, developed in collaboration with Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum (VITM), Bengaluru.

Interactive displays at the FCI Food Museum in Thanjavur, developed in collaboration with Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum (VITM), Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: M Moorthy/THE HINDU

A quick walk to an adjoining annexe shows us the journey of the grain, from the field to the procurement centres, and includes a scaled down replica of a silo bin. The dioramas are beautifully detailed, right down to the number plates of trucks and the bulge in the sacks of grain.

Having spent so much time looking at food-related displays, visitors may be a bit disappointed to note that there is no restaurant on the premises to provide a tasty trimming to the tour.

But luckily, the multi-cuisine eateries of Thanjavur, the ‘rice bowl of India’, offer many tasty alternatives.

The Food Museum is located at Nirmala Nagar, Pudukottai Road, Thanjavur. Open Monday through Saturday, from 11am to 5pm. Call 0436-2276292.

A life-size replica of a public distribution system (PDS) ration shop at the Food Museum in Thanjavur.

A life-size replica of a public distribution system (PDS) ration shop at the Food Museum in Thanjavur.   | Photo Credit: M Moorthy/THE HINDU


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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 11:53:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/agriculture/fci-food-museum-in-thanjavur-explores-the-roots-of-agriculture/article37807794.ece

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