Understanding the Food we Eat !

Understanding the Food we Eat !

Understanding the Food We EAT : Via Tomato !


It took few years to understand what we eat. In this article, I am trying to peel, few of the basics of what we consume. The objective is not to pass any value judgments but to share some of the broad aspects of the food we consume.

Broadly the entire life cycle of food on our table can be (from a consumer point of view) categorized into three aspects.

1) Seeds

2) Nature of Cultivation.

3) Processing.

4) Packaging.

We will try to understand the different options used in agriculture and the nuances of each of the three category in coming blogs.

In this article, we will try to understand the seeds.


Seed: The most important aspect in any agriculture is the kind of seed that is used. Broadly three types of seeds are used.

  1. Native/Desi/Nati Seeds.
  2. Hybrid Seeds.
  3. GMO.


  1. Native Seeds:

Native Seeds are the seeds, which our farmers know like the back of their hand. These native seeds on their own have gone through evolution through centuries to become more suitable, accustomed to the nature vagaries, whether it is climate, pests, manure etc. This is typically the theory of evolution. Because of these inherent properties, these seeds are considered to be acclimatized to specific geography. But because they self-evolve, it takes time for these seeds to adapt. Hence these seeds or the produce are more susceptible to climate changes, Pests and other natural vagaries, or new challenges, which in turns reduces the productivity for the farmer. Also, a crop from native seeds even if grown in a single farm with similar kind of cultivation will be different in size, color, taste etc (which consumer probably don’t like).

The most important advantage of the native seeds is, it can be used for farming the next crop. Have a pause here and think, a seed stored for say 6-9 months is capable enough to bring a new crop in the next season. One of the sufficient proof, why the crops from these seeds are considered more nutritious and tasty.

We all would have heard the story of the farmer and Watermelon. That the typical evolution of native seeds.

  1. Hybrid Seeds:

As the name suggests, these seeds are the result of scientific cross pollination between two seeds (typically done in nature by scientists). The whole objective of hybrid seeds and the research behind them especially in India was to ensure to create seeds which are more adaptable to changing nature, Pests etc, to enhance productivity, to minimize wastage's. So, 2 of the best seeds of specific crops are taken, cross pollinated to create a hybrid seeds. These seeds brought the advantages of enhanced productivity, more pest/worm resistant, more beautiful and similar kind of crop. The operative word here is enhanced productivity as that was the need of hour. Most of you would be aware of the acute shortage of food in India in early days of Independence. The crop from these hybrid seeds are definitely more beautiful, similar in size and shape (which consumer also prefer)….probably a better way to understand would be to imagining a processing assembly of any manufacturing plant. All final products will look and feel the same way. But not much have been said about the nutrient content and taste of these hybrid seeds products.

Lots of private investment across globe had been poured into such research. One should not be surprised, when I write that the seeds from the final hybrid crop cannot be used for the next crop. This is because the seeds from the crop lack most of their properties to be useful for the next crop. Farmers will have to buy the seeds from the market, unlike in case of native seeds, wherein the seeds of crops can be used for next season.

  1. GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) :

GMO is something, which we are hearing a lot these days. Organism here refer to plants, animal etc). The GMO seeds are completely a product of Laboratories. Cross pollination which cannot happen naturally are cross pollinated in lab to create hybrid seeds. The difference between Hybrid seeds and GMO seeds are basically, GMO is a completely lab developed seeds, while hybrid seeds can also happen in nature. Lots of research are getting done on the GMO but still lot of research needs to be done especially the long term impact.

So how does, the tomato comes into the picture..!!!

Because, one, we all consume tomato and two, native/Desi and hybrid tomatoes are still available in most of the vegetable shops. So how will one differentiate between the two varieties?

The beautiful Big, Round, Red (all Similar in color), TASTELESS !!! would be the hybrid Tomatoes.

The small, with different shapes, sizes, color, and much sour (typically how tomatoes should taste) are the native/Desi ones.

Any Idea, which one will have more Vitamin C ?

Next time, While buying Tomatoes, Do pause for a moment !!!

Till the next part, Eat Healthy, Sleep sufficiently and laugh abundantly !


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