Oct 31, 2021

Stages of Life

Human Life goes through the following stages - birth, childhood, youth, middle age, old age and death.

Some might skip 1-2 stages and face death in the case of a sudden eventuality.

Some sail through old age and hit the final stage in a matter of hours.

Some are destined to go through "Sickness" - a temporary phase between old age and death, a phase with intense physical and/or emotional pain that needs to be experienced, when death seems to be elusive.

Inevitably, the reason our mind conjures up is that there is some unresolved karma that needs to be cleared before we move onto next stage.

As I thought about this a few weeks back, the question that immediately hit me was "Why not clear those unresolved karmas in the 40s and 50s? Why go through all the pain and suffering  in the 70s and 80s?"

These questions have led me to go deeper into understanding about karma. I don't have a clear understanding yet. But reading Sadhguru's Karma is bringing in a lot of clarity on many such questions.

Thank you Universe yet again, for bringing the right book at the right time in front of my eyes.

Oct 24, 2021

Book Review: Salt Sugar Fat: How the food giants hooked us by Michael Moss

Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

Having been researching packaged foods and their ingredients for the past 5+ years, this book was meant to come to my attention one way or another. Thanks to a friend, I came across this book "Salt Sugar Fat: How the food giants hooked us" a few months back and I knew I had to read it to understand the history and evolution of processed foods in the US. 

The book is divided into three sections - a section each for Salt, Sugar, and Fat - the three essential pillars of processed foods. It has been a fascinating and eye-opening read with multiple takeaways. I stumbled upon many new terminologies - bliss point, sensory-specific satiety, vanishing calorie density, stomach share, etc. I also learned about the multiple roles of these three ingredients apart from their obvious role of taste. 

The author has taken the effort to go deeper into the two aspects that make processed foods addictive - formulation and marketing. He has provided multiple examples and case studies that reiterate the importance of these two aspects.

My main motivation to read this book was to gather some insights on how the product and marketing strategy of processed food manufacturers would play out in India in the near future. The anti-obesity campaign, the related regulations, and pressure from different groups kicked off sometime in the 1980s in the United States. We are still quite far from that stage in India. In the next few years, we might see a proliferation of new product categories - frozen pizzas, more cheese-based snacks, meal replacement drinks, etc.

The narrative of this book follows a documentary style of writing, that does tend to become a little dragging at times. Nevertheless, it helps to unravel a lot more behind-the-scenes details that are involved in the research, design, manufacturing, and marketing of processed foods. The not-so-surprising fact that gets reiterated is that almost all those who are involved in these different departments of processed food companies never bother to include their creations in their diets. It is only us, convenience-seeking consumers who become scapegoats in this large-scale collaboration and experimentation of food and pharma companies. 

Do pick up this book if you are interested to know more about food science and the history of processed foods. The context is set in the US though. For someone like me who has never lived in the US, I wasn't able to *get* the finer details about the big brands.

Oct 8, 2021

Self reliance in food - part II

A few days back, I had made a jar of ragi (finger millet) muesli. My brother and my husband had a bowl of this muesli for breakfast and were surprised to note that it was homemade. Both of them said to me, "this tastes really good. Much better than store bought ones. You should start selling them".

As I pondered over this idea, I realised that this is exactly what I don't want to do. This rationale might sound counter intuitive or a clear lack of business sense. But hear me out.

1) There are tons of brands stacked up on supermarket shelves. I don't want to add one more and complicate the decision making process of consumers even further.

2) For a product to be packaged and sold, there are a few compromises being made to the authenticity and quality of the product. For eg, idli chutney podi's flavor primarily comes from sesame seeds but because it can turn the podi rancid in a few weeks, big brands like MTR that need a longer shelf life completely avoid adding sesame seeds. Muesli's taste and texture comes from nuts and seeds but because of the cost factor as well as the need for longer shelf life, there are hardly any nuts and seeds in store bought muesli.

3) This is the most important reason for me. My primary goal is to encourage people to be producers/creators and become self-reliant without relying on market forces to meet every single need. For eg, making muesli at home is hardly a 10-15 min work, provided we have stocked up on grain flakes, nuts, seeds and dry fruits. Making our own batters, spice powders, condiments, pickles and laddoos, setting curd, making paneer, baking tea cakes and muffins - all of these are possible at home. Benefits are multifold - much more healthier, hygienic, cost effective and most importantly, the joy of making something with our own hands is unbeatable. Once we know the procedure, it doesn't take a lot of time when carefully planned and executed. I'd rather prefer that we all become self-sufficient than be consumers for life.

All we need is to question whether we are really as time-starved as we think.

Oct 4, 2021

Book Review: The subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson

 For the past couple of years, I have been reading Mark Manson's blog and his newsletter regularly. His content resonates with me at a deeper level - harsh, hard-hitting truths with no beating around the bush. His article "The attention diet" was so thought-provoking.

His books have been on my reading list for quite some time. As I keep reiterating, a book comes to you at the right time when you are ready to receive its contents. There couldn't have been a better time than now to read his book "The subtle art of not giving a f*ck".

I found answers to many questions that I had been grappling with, in this book.

I have heard of this statement "You are responsible for everything that happens in your life" in multiple forums. I could never come to terms with the explanations I heard in the past. Thanks to Mark Manson, I understood the true essence of this statement, and boy, it gave me goosebumps. I shall write an elaborate post on this soon.

The writing style is casual, easy to read, yet speaks about deeper issues in such powerful language, leaving the reader a lot to munch on.

My highlighter was used to the fullest, as I was underlining pretty much the entire book🙂 It is hard to pick 5-6 favorite passages, but let me give it a try:

"Finding something important and meaningful in your life is perhaps the most productive use of your time and energy. Because if you don't find that meaningful something, your f*cks will be given to meaningless and frivolous causes."

"Like physical pain, our psychological pain is an indication of something out of equilibrium, some limitation that has been exceeded."

"Negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, it's because you are supposed to do something. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are rewards for taking the proper action."

"Technology has solved old economic problems by giving us new psychological problems. The Internet has not just open-sourced information; it has also open-sourced insecurity, self-doubt, and shame."

"The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it"

"Our most radical changes in perspective often happen at the tail end of our worst moments. It's only when we feel intense pain that we're willing to look at our values and question why they seem to be failing us."

"Death is the light by which the shadow of all of life's meaning is measured."

It isn't the usual run-of-the-mill self-development book with the standard template, that makes you feel good. This book will make you uncomfortable, question you at a deeper level, and leave you with a lasting impact. I don't want to spoil the read any further. Pick it up no matter what stage of life you are in.

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