A Visit to My Kitchen: Vandana Shiva


Vandana Shiva is in my kitchen today, sharing her thoughts on organic food, the differences in food between cultures, and her hands-on approach to getting her news.


Vandana Shiva is an internationally known scientist, environmental activist, and author from India.

Why is living organic important to you?

By going organic, you avoid genetically modified food. I’ve had letters from Chinese scientists at the peak of the SARS epidemic who said the problem is a hybridization between the viruses planted into GMO feed, which is then fed to animals, then the virus jumped from the animals to humans. We’re going to see more and more of these kinds of risks. I think the whole issue of the H1N1 virus was the fact that it had genes for three influenza types—human, chicken, pig. All of these crossings are becoming possible because of the crossing of genes across species barriers.

In the U.S., because the main crops genetically modified are soy and corn, I think the best way to avoid them is to avoid processed food. I think there are such delicious alternatives; people should promote local markets and organic food, that’s where you can ensure you’re not being imposed with a GM diet.

What was your favorite food growing up?

My favorite food growing up and still is kichdi. It’s this amazing Indian dish that is both the laziest dish and sort of the sacred dish. And it’s also the most healthy dish; it’s given when you’re ill. It’s a mix of rices and spices, especially lentils and any vegetable you can put into it. It’s a holistic meal in one. And with a bit of yogurt, it’s wonderful.

What’s your go-to comfort food now?

It still is kichdi, because no matter the situation, if I have a kichdi I’m happy. If I’m ill and I get it, I’m happy; if there’s no time, you can easily put it all together and I’m happy. My sister makes the best kichdi. We live together. There’s a beautiful harvest festival in South and North India. Although they’re very different kinds of harvest festivals, the symbolization of a good harvest is an overflowing pot of kichdi.

What’s the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn’t live without?

What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?

I don’t get obsessed, and definitely not with the Web. I’m from the generation that grew up pre-computers. I suffer the Internet; I’m not addicted to it. My ultimate creativity comes from paper and pen; I still handwrite all my books. What I am obsessed with is finding creative ways to get people more involved in protecting this beautiful earth and getting them to feel like they have the ability to make a difference.

What’s the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?

That Monsanto is going down, and the need to support the farmers and give them alternatives to farming without Monsanto’s aid.

Where do you get your news?

I get my news from actually being in the situation where things are happening. So if there’s a flood, I go to the place where there’s a flood to see if it was caused by rain or caused by a release of water from a dam. If farmers are dying because they are committing suicide, I go to the places where they’re doing studies to try to figure out why they’re committing suicide.



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8 Responses to A Visit to My Kitchen: Vandana Shiva

  1. Maria (farm country kitchen) October 28, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Vandana! Thank you so much for coming to my kitchen! My only regret is we forgot to ask you how to make Kichdi. Thanks for all you do.


  2. kristy October 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    I am an admirer of Vandana and just had to say so. She has and IS doing and saying so much on a global scale that simply MUST be heard! When I hear about the efforts of Monsanto and all involved I am appalled. When I look at my grandson’s beautiful face, I find even more reasons to shop, promote, and eat organic, free range, and primarily vegetarian meals.
    It doesn’t compare to efforts like hers, but it is what I am able to do at this time. Blessings to you both.

  3. Diane October 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    Dr. Shiva was in the area to give a presentation at Moravian College. It was an honor to hear her again after meeting her in Copenhagen last year. There will be a faculty response to her presentation and writings on November 4th at 4:00 p.m. in the UBC room of the Haupert Building.

    After reading this posting, I must add that, to my knowledge, there is no scientific evidence linking GMO food or feed to SARs or H1N1 although that is strongly implied in Dr. Shiva’s comments. There is a long history of genetic information crossing species boundaries via viruses — it is how new diseases emerge and reach humans from other animals. And this starting long before we were doing genetic engineering.

  4. Don October 28, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    We were happy to host both Vandana Shiva & our visitors from Rodale at Moravian College. She is an extraordinary person as well as a voice for the voiceless. Her talk on Earth Democracy which contains a lot of information on her work with Indian farmers can be found online http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmJYZKd5iGg. Thank you Maria for all of your great work.

  5. Donna in Delaware October 29, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    Interesting stuff.

  6. marye November 1, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    Great article! I am very interested in what Dr. Shiva has to say about genetically modified foods. I have preaching to my friends and posting warnings on my blog, but people just don’t seem to understand what they are putting into their bodies.

  7. Chef Deanna November 2, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    My heart is full that there is a kitchen in America and women strong enough to have Vandana Shiva come and sit with her. I founded Woodstock Hidden Kitchen 2 years ago, refusing to be a part of the food industry. I happened upon a video of Vandana Shiva and immediatly stopped business as usual and set out to create a safe food supply and a beautiful venue in the Catskill Mountains, changing the way we do weddings and other events that have vile environmental impacts on a local and global level. Every dime goes to our farmers and local businesses. We started our own little navdanya. However, in this little tourist town when the Woodstock Film Festival comes in and all the money goes directly into the hands of SYSCO, it makes us feel like we are alone and no one is getting the connection between the destruction of our mountains and what we eat. I watch these people showing off thier new social documentary about the environment, while eating in a place that has no local food items at all.
    Our farmers are suffering from this, they have no demand and they are going out of business, paving the way for Hydrolic Fracturing.
    Today, I happened upon Maria Rodel and my heart is full, thank you thank you.
    If fate finds you a few hours away, in my beautiful Catskill Mountains I want to welcome you and hope that you will find your way to my kitchen so we can serve the people who are an important part of our future on this planet and feel the connection to earth as strong as we do. deannascatering@aol.com we all need to connect and break bread together and again understand the value of food.
    thank you
    Deanna Marie D’Angelo-Karpe
    Woodstock Hidden Kitchen

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