Ramesh Arora, a BJP legislator from Jammu and Kashmir, has unearthed terrifying villains hiding in plain sight. Ones that are pretending to be almost cute, fluffy, delicious-looking things that you cannot help tucking into your mouth. Oh, does it seem like we are talking about momos?
Yes, we are talking about momos.
If you have not already read the news, we will wait for a moment so that you can collect the pieces of your broken heart and proceed to reading this.
While meat-eaters will occasionally roll their eyes at 'vegetarian' momos, it is a fact that momos are those rare things that lend themselves to vegetables as effectively they do to meat. If you're in Delhi, you've also probably seen people consuming 'paneer momos' and quietly told yourself that if there's anything that can salvage paneer from its shocking lack of personality, it has to be a momo.
But according to this BJP legislator, monosodium glutamate (MSG), or ajinomoto, added to momos makes it more dangerous than even alcohol or psychotropic drugs.
The fact is MSG, which is frequently used as a taste-enhancer in Chinese cuisine, was once believed to have caused symptoms that were called 'Chinese Restaurant Syndrome'. However, a series of clinical tests has so far not revealed any conclusive evidence of any harmful effects.
Dr Seema Singh, a nutritionist at Fortis Hospital said that MSG is there in a lot of food. "Not just momos, they have to ban all packaged food items and ban Chinese restaurants if they want to end the consumption of MSG." However, Dr Singh said that MSG is not unsafe if taken in small quantities. The nutritionist said that an 'added MSG' of 0.55 gms everyday is the permissible limit. "It can only be harmful in the long term if more than 3gm MSG is taken without food every day."
But since Mr Arora has decided to stop this 'evil' substance from seeping into our systems, we have a few more humble requests for him to hunt and ban, while he's on his noble mission.
There is ample evidence that xenophobia is not good for the health of people, the societies they populate, and the countries they live in. It affects us in many ways—it clouds rationality with hate and makes us sour, unhappy people. So, going by Mr Arora's definition of our favourite dumplings, xenophobia is momos on crack. Mr Arora, who seemed to be wary of momos more because of the people who he thinks invented and eat them—"foreigners including Bangladeshi and Burmese"—should realise that hating people for their race and ethnicity is worse for the eco-system than MSG.
High doses of ignorance are extremely unhealthy for social living, politics and activism. For example, if you are going to declare war against any food, you must get your facts right. Maggi was banned for a while for having more MSG than the permissible limits. And MSG has been used for enhancing the flavour of foods for the past 100 years at least. MSG is in our KFC chicken, french fries, ketchup, salads and even some pickles. Also, you shouldn't be making irresponsible statements, like momos are consumed by Bangladeshis and the Burmese, as though that's a reason why they shouldn't be consumed by Indians. Ignorance also leads human beings to make factually incorrect statements and exposes them to the danger of appearing idiotic.
3. FOOD POLICING
Food policing, or denying people the right to eat what's celebrated in their culture, is dangerous for health as well. The health of a democracy that is. Our country has already seen people getting murdered for meat was stored in their fridge. A few days ago, there was a masked attempt to deny one man's food to appease another man's religion. Maybe Mr Arora can take cognisance of this highly unhealthy, toxic practice that makes enemies out of fellow citizens. It's detrimental to the existence of the human conscience too.
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