How does one deal with the pests that infest your provisions? We list out a few simple tips to keep them away
Earlier, many families bought grains in bulk, which was then periodically dried in the sun and later packed into containers.
The pulses were first roasted and then stored. Today, we are used to cleaned and packed grains and pulses so much that we rarely have the time to dry and clean them.
Eating organic is a symbiotic process, where the consumers cannot just be buyers. They also have to work with farmers and suppliers, be ready to consume the produce that is local and seasonal. That is not all, one has to work on preserving non-perishables and understand the challenges of growing, storing, and transporting food without using chemicals.
At various stages, these grains are repeatedly dried, cleaned and natural control mechanisms such as neem leaves, vasambu or red chillies are used to control pest infestation. Of course, this does not guarantee 100 per cent protection. A few organic brands use nitrogen packing to prevent infestation. Yet, the grains become infested, and sometimes pretty quickly.
Organic grains and pulses are attractive to pests as well. This is proof of authenticity.
More importantly, these pests are not as dangerous as the chemicals used to prevent infestation.
Pest problems increase during the monsoons due to moisture in the air. It is also difficult to dry them during this season.
Pests can be easily managed. When you see a few weevils in your organic grain/pulse/millet jars, you can re-use them after winnowing and cleaning, or washing and drying. In the case of flours, putting it through a sieve is the only way. In the pest-attack hierarchy, the flour gets attacked the earliest, then the broken grains (rava) and then the whole grains. Among the pulses, those with skin are more vulnerable to attacks than the split versions.
This article was originally published in The Hindu, Metro plus edition of Coimbatore on January 28, 2017