Published: 29th April 2020
How this family in Idukki has sustained themselves on a raw food diet through the lockdown
Eldho Pachilakkadan and his family consume an all-fruit diet thanks to their ten-acre farm in Idukki where they grow and eat their own food to promote good health
The lockdown hit Eldho Pachilakkadan a little differently than the rest of us. Three years ago, he had decided to leave the world as he knew it and build a home for himself and his family on 10 acres of land in Idukki. An advocate of a raw food lifestyle, he filled the land with over 200 varieties of fruits which has become the only food that he consumes along with his wife and two children. So when restaurants closed and Swiggy refused to deliver, one family in the state didn’t blink an eye.
When Eldho was a practising architect in Trivandrum. nine years ago, he had a brief stint at the Travel and Natural History Society in the capital city where he had a revelation about food. The workspace was surrounded by animals, fruits and all things nature. He says, “I learnt a lot at the time. I saw the importance of organic farming. I came to the realisation that there’s a lot we are missing out about what goes into the food we eat. It taught me a lot about food and life."
LAND HO: Eldho's farm spans across 10 acres
His plan was always to retire by the age of 35. He set up art galleries and restaurants in Kochi before he realised that he wanted the headache to stop and live in peace. He quit his job and bought the land which changed his life and dedicated his life’s work to organic farming without pesticides. Eldho says, “I see life and everything related to it from an evolutionary point of view. Everything happens through change. Science has already learnt that this is how life and society grow diverse. The very reason we survive is evolution. This is the philosophy on which I set up my land as well. Any little change can make make a difference.”
He continues, “There are regional changes that affect our diet. A person living in a tropical region would have the same diet as someone else. It was the intervention of technology and the ability to transport food that we all began to eat the same things. Two generations ago, we didn't get food from outside, we only ate what we had from around us. Even cloth was made within our own community.”
FOOD FIRST: The family only consumes what grows on the farm
Eldho rubbishes the idea of mindlessly adopting food habits from different parts of the world. So what does Eldho eat in a day? If he’s hungry, he plucks a fruit that is growing in that particular season. Mainly, this includes fruits like bananas, papaya and pineapple. His plants are less than 3 years old. He grows plants that offer fruits in the short term. In addition to this, the land is filled with over 100 jackfruit trees that keep on giving.
Eldho has been spending quarantine alone on the farm with a friend. He wakes early in the morning before the sun is out and begins working on the farm by planting seeds, cutting the grass and gardening. He takes a dip in the local pond before indulging in a game of chess or checkers with a friend. The farm is still not 100 per cent sustainable on its own.
ON A DIET: According to Eldho, a raw fruit diet has various health benefits
He says, “In a year or two, we will reach a point where nothing has to be bought from outside. We buy a few fruits like apples from the outside. And sometimes when we crave other food, we let ourselves have it. It was when the virus hit that we realised how sustainable we can be if we chose to.”
“None of us is a single unit,” he adds, “Making food is a necessity for the community as a whole. Nobody wonders if there’s food on your neighbour’s table. We created the idea of those who have and those who do not, this has to go.” Three months ago, Eldho launched the Utopia Project in Alappuzha with the aim to set up sustainable spaces. If there is a home with 30-50 cents of land, he can change it into a self-sustained farm. The idea is to create multiple solutions through food.