Take To Local: Try These 7 Easy-Access Alternatives To Exotic And Expensive Foods

While globalization has allowed us to access exotic foods from around the world, a lot of locally sourced produce is just as good, and in some cases, even better

Naini Setalvad Updated: Aug 23, 2019 13:22:11 IST
Local foods Indiapicture

Globalization has allowed us to access exotic foods from around the world, all year round. For most people, if a product is expensive, it must be superior. What they don’t realize is that it may cost more not because of its premium quality but because of the massive duty levied on imported food. A lot of locally sourced produce is just as good, and in some cases, even better. What’s more, it is priced far more reasonably. Also, eating local foods can help you reduce your carbon footprint by up to seven per cent and show more love for the planet. Here are some easy-to-find local heroes.


Amla v/s Goji Berries

With lifestyle illnesses on the rise, everyone wants to boost their immunity, and vitamin C is essential for it. We often end up ignoring local sources of vitamin C such as amla [the Indian gooseberry] and hanker for the fancier goji berry. While goji berry may be labelled as a ‘miracle fruit’ because of its many health benefits, the sour-tasting amla offers similar—if not better—benefits. Our daily requirement of vitamin C is about 65 to 90 gm. One serving of amla contains 600 mg of vitamin C, and if juiced, its value increases. When it is dehydrated, amla provides 2,428 to 3,470 mg of vitamin C. Even when it’s dried and turned into powder, it retains as much as 780 to 2,660 mg of vitamin C. Easily available at most local grocers and vegetable vendors, the immunity-boosting fruit has a bunch of other health benefits: It balances stomach acids, strengthens the heart and lungs, improves skin and hair texture and is an anti-carcinogenic. Eat it fresh and sprinkled with sea salt or chop it into small pieces and toss it into your favourite salad for a dash of tartness.


Amaranth v/s Quinoa

Did you know that amaranth [rajgira in Hindi] is packed with manganese and just one serving can fulfil your daily need of this nutrient? Part of the same plant family as quinoa, this provides comparable health benefits and at a fraction of the cost. Amaranth is also high in antioxidants, fibre, calcium, phosphorous and iron. You can add ground amaranth seed grains with your flour to make rotis or bread. Or eat amaranth puffs as a breakfast cereal.


Flaxseeds v/s Chia seeds

It is so much better to use flaxseeds instead of chia seeds in your smoothies and salads. Flaxseeds [alsi in Hindi] not only contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids but also come laden with monounsaturated fats, which are essential for your overall good health. High in fibre and low in carbohydrates, these wonder seeds are also packed with antioxidants that help improve your skin and hair.


Paneer v/s Feta Cheese

If we compare the two, 100 gm of paneer has 20.8 gm of fat and 18.3 gm of protein and 100 gm of feta cheese has 21 gm of fat and 14 gm of protein. But beware—there is a lot of added salt in feta and, there could be added preservatives too for prolonging shelf life. There’s nothing better than fresh, homemade cottage cheese or paneer. It can easily be made at home, with skimmed milk or bought from your local dairy that makes a fresh batch every day.


Cold-pressed mustard oil v/s Extra virgin olive oil

The monounsaturated fat in mustard oil is nearly on par with its level in olive oil. Mustard oil has been an integral part of the Indian pantry for centuries and our bodies are used to it. Unlike extra virgin olive oil, which has a low smoking point, mustard oil has a high smoking point, which is more suitable for Indian cooking. Extra virgin olive oil is best preserved at 18 degrees Celsius, whereas mustard oil is produced locally and does not require a specific temperature for preservation. Cold-pressed oils are more beneficial for health as they are mechanically pressed and therefore retain their nutrients, so opt for the cold-pressed variety instead of regular mustard oil.


Home-Made buttermilk v/s Ready-to-drink probiotics

Many households in India can churn out a glass of fresh homemade buttermilk. Due to the naturally produced live bacteria in it, buttermilk supports gut health and boosts immunity. When it is made at home, you can control the quality of milk and choose if you want it plain or with natural salts, herbs or spices. Packaged probiotic drinks, on the other hand, often contain added sugars and preservatives, which are detrimental to health.


Fresh home-made yogurt v/s Greek yogurt

All forms of yogurt contain gut-friendly bacteria known as probiotics that improve digestive health and overall immunity. Greek yogurt and homemade yogurt [dahi in Hindi] are both good sources of probiotics. However, just as with buttermilk, you can choose the variety of the milk to make yogurt at home. It’s best to make a fresh batch and consume it on the same day.

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