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..We may not know it, but it is certain that we are slowly perishing individually and as a nation. It is no use laying the blame at other people’s doors- the government, the State, it the Zemidar. They are certainly responsible for our sorry plight, but we are no less responsible, as we had better bethink ourselves of our responsibility.
The reason why our average life-rate is deplorably low, the reason why we are getting more and more impoverished is that we have neglected our 700,000 villages. We have indeed thought of the, but only to the extent of exploiting them. We read thrilling accounts of the glory that was India, and of the land that was flowing with milk and honey; but today it is a land of starving million. We are sitting in this fine pandal under a blaze of these lights at the expense of the poor. We have no right to use the lights if we forget that we owe these to them....The remedy is to identity ourselves with the poor villager and to help him make the land yield its plenty , help him produce what we need. And confine ourselves to use what he produces, live as he lives, and persuade him to take to more rational ways of diet and living.
We eat mill-ground flour, and even the poor villager walks with a head-loaf of half a maund grain to have it ground to have it ground in the nearest flour-mill. Do you know that in spite of the plenty of food-stuffs we produce, we import wheat from outside and we eat ‘superfine’flour, and the poor villagers also foolishly copies us. We thus turn wealth into waste, nectar into poison. For whole meal is the proper meal. Mill ground flour which we must peat fresh every day, and will pay for less nutritious things and purchase ill-health into the bargain. This is not any abstruse economic truth, it is a fact which is daily happening before our eyes.
The same is the case with rice and gur and oil. We will eat rice, polished of it substance, and eat less nutritious sugar and pay more for it than more nutritious gur. We have suffered the village oilman to be driven to extinction and we eat adulterated oils. We idealize the cow, but kill her by slow degrees. We eat honey and kill the honey bee, with the result that honey is such a rare commodity today that it is only available to a ‘Mahatma’ like me or to those who must have it from the physician as a vehicle for the drugs he prescribes. If we took the trouble of learning scientific and harmless bee-keeping, we should get it cheaper and our children would get out of it all the carbohydrates they need. In all our dietetics we mistake the shadow for the substance , preferring bone-white sugar to rice brown gur and pale while bread to rich brown bran bread...
I implore you to throw off your inertia, to bestir yourselves to study these elementary facts and live more rational lives and learn how to turn waste into wealth. I have told you simple truths which would soon realize and act up to if we threw off the inertia of ages. But we have to shunned body-labour to the detriment of our brains, and thus rest content with the irrational ways of diet and living. .... (Harijan. 11/5/1935)