little baby in a chef's hat and ladle in hand
If there is anything that the whole Maggi noodles brouhaha that has recently come out of India has taught us, it is that packaged food, no matter how healthy it claims to be, cannot match the health and nutrition value of home-cooked food.
It is also a lesson, regrettably, that many of us will not heed. We will call for more stringent food safety authorities, for stricter processes and punishments, for someone to take action somewhere. But the most effective action one can take is by oneself, and if in this whole rigmarole, at least some of us will return to our home dining tables, it will all have been worthwhile.
For those of you who have not been in touch with the news, regulatory checking has revealed that samples of Maggi noodles in India carry more lead content than is permissible by the FDA, and that they also contain MSG – a salt which is controversial and has been claimed does not exist in Maggi.
However, as India takes its steps into multi-income families and no-time-for-anything schedules, perhaps this is the roadblock that was required for us to slow down, take a step back, and ask ourselves some searching questions. Do we really have no time to make for ourselves a healthy, nutritious meal? Are we really so busy that we have to rely on packaged food such as Maggi to supplement us on a daily basis?
The answers are no, of course. The main reason why people allow fast food or packaged food to become staple parts of their diet is because they do not understand how much difference there is in the nutritional values. That’s not to say unhealthy home cooking is impossible, but at least you know what you’re putting into the stuff you cook.
Perhaps the silver lining in this cloud is the reminder that nothing is more important than health in these times of increasing levels of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and food poisoning. And the biggest boon you can give to your health is to cook your own food, and eat out only as an occasional indulgence.
So the next time you feel like eating noodles, make some at home. When you want to eat bread, consider making a roti. Instead of heat-and-eat dal makhani, whip it up from scratch. The results won’t be ‘fast’, but they will sure be healthy.

Damien Peters

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