Gaytri Bhatia, environmental analyst/grower, as she titles herself, picks mulberries and heirloom tomatoes with her bare hands and pops a couple of them directly into her mouth. Thirty-eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes (under the larger umbrella of cherry and beefsteak varieties) seem to have overrun Vrindavan Farm, a maze of trees, plants and crops, and today she is tasting some of them — cherry-lemon, cherry currant, and cherry rose pink — even as she continues with her work. These little red, white, orange and pink beauties are scrumptious enough to eat as fruit, which tomatoes in fact are.
Making a conscious and drastic lifestyle change, Bhatia left her corporate job in America to run her family farm in Wada, Maharashtra. “In 2009 I returned to India and found that what we were eating no longer nourished us. It was a lab-spawned, unnaturally modified (for face value at that), chemically-fed, hormone-pumped, early-harvested, chemically-ripened, coloured and-sometimes-sweetened, fast-forwarded ‘something’. My love for the earth and my own health, I guess, turned into the growing of food. Farmers are naturally stewards of the environment. Our practices directly feed into the health of humanity and the earth,” she says.
“I noticed that we were on track to becoming a toxic wasteland, fed by misinfo