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Cookin’ with…Waste!

Rasa Ayurveda is situated in a quiet neighborhood, just outside the ancient, small city of Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. In many good ways, life is still very local and slow.

Consider trash, for instance. No big trucks come ’round weekly to collect garbage. No it pretty much stays where one leaves it, at least until a hungry critter comes along to relocate it, helping with Mother Nature’s nutrient and waste distribution system.

At Rasa Ayurveda, we’ve decided to help Mother Nature’s process out a bit. Not only do we shy away from both random and regular critter visits, we are also very interested in conserving natural resources. Properly managed with an attitude of living in harmony with our Big Mamma, most kinds of waste are a valuable resource.

See that big pit? It’s been dug below the kitchen window at Rasa Ayurveda. Just inside the window is a marble countertop upon which sits a gas cooker. This is where all the good cookin’ happens at Rasa Ayurveda. No not only the morning tea but the briyanis, the curries, the kanyees and torans. The dry pappadam. The idlis, muringella dosas and aval uppama. Granted, some delicious meals are cooked outside over coconut-husk embers, but almost every Dr. Geetha-approved, body nourishing, tongue tickling, Ayurvedic, Kerala cuisine delight is stirred up by Jalaja Rasa’s fabulous cook over a hot cooker right inside the window there.

Up until recently, we’ve been buying lots of cooking gas to keep the kitchen fires burning. With 12 staff members and up to 10 patient guests taking meals from Rasa’s kitchen, we cook a lot of food and burn a lot of gas!

The gas comes in a heavy metal cylinder. It takes fuel to transport the full cylinder to our kitchen at Rasa Ayurveda. Once the cylinder is empty, it takes fuel again to move it back to where it came from, to be filled and moved yet again.

A few months ago, I’d been after Sanju aniyan my adopted brother and Rasa Ayurveda’s manager to come up with a good system for managing and recycling all our waste. Honestly, we don’t create much at Rasa Ayurveda. But whatever we do create should be dealt with to leave us in the zero-impact zone. Eco-minded Nature lovers than we are here at Rasa Ayurveda, we’d also been talking about trying to make biodiesel for Rasa’s vehicle, the Scorpio.

Sanju is so great at creative problem solving at ‘thinking outside the box,’ you might say he sort of slushed these topics together in his mind, I think, and came up with the info needed to introduce me to the possibility of cooking with the waste from food scraps! How could I say no?

Enter: the biogas plant. One of the metal tub contraptions you see pictured on the right is about to fill that hole in front of the kitchen window.

Once the plant is in the pit, we’ll toss our kitchen scraps into the biogas unit every day. Jalaja will reign over a special cooker, connected by a hose to the unit. Methane and other gases which are a by-product of the composting process will travel thru the tube to the cooker. Light a match and you’re cookin’ with waste!

Of course, when Mother Nature’s process has completed itself inside that big metal tub, we’ll have lovely, nutrient-rich compost to spread around on all the medicinal and edible botanicals we’ve got everywhere at Rasa Ayurveda.

The biogas plant won’t completely eliminate our use of the usual cooking gas, but it will cut down on our need tremendously, and turn trash into treasure, for us and our plants.

There can be no health for any of us without clean, sustainable, affordable basic resources for living. So, while we definitely remain Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre for Women, we’re not afraid to adapt in ways that serve our patient-guests, our fuel bill, and mostly, our good Mother Earth.

Blessings of Balance to us All

Niika Quistgard

Director, Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre for Women

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