As an older adult I take some supplements like calcium and vitamins as do many others. But even as I am swallowing them I ask myself why, and are these really necessary, and can we trust the manufacturers and do I dare stop?

It seems that the Harvard Medical School health publication is asking the same questions (

Their thinking is that even though dietary supplements may fill some nutrient gaps for older folk, taking too much can be harmful.

They advise that “…nutrients are most potent when they come from food (because) the fresh food you eat is loaded with nutrients necessary for good health, such as magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A and C”.

However, they do see the benefits of Vitamin D and B supplements so we should not start or stop our supplement regime without first discussing it in detail with our doctors.

But reading their insights had me searching for more information.

Not surprisingly, I found that several modern magazines as well as research articles highly recommend eating a balanced diet, high in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses, nuts, grains and they appear to lean more toward the goodness of these foods rather than meats. Yet when we watch the food networks they are overflowing with meat and more meat.

At this point I have to declare my bias.

I am a vegetarian and I cannot bear to watch most programs on Food Network where it seems that every show piles meat upon more meat – the higher the piles of meat the more excited the chefs seem.

I cannot pretend to be holier than thou about being a vegetarian, though – my family is not.

Millions of people cook healthy and wonderful non-vegetarian meals like lean meats and poultry, salmon, sardines and tuna – all balanced and all in moderation.

I reflect on the way our Indian parents ate and what they served us as children.

We were not affluent but we had fruit trees and we grew vegetables so they were always foremost in our meals.

Once a week meat, poultry or fish was cooked and when I refused to eat these my mother was not judgemental – rather, she made sure that a vegetarian dish was always on the table.

Our desi foods are not only amazing for us, they are now being touted in the west.

You see commercials praising the benefits of yoghurt. Arre! Our parents, grandparents and their grandparents before them were eating healthy dahis for centuries.

And if you look up khitchri, you will see that nutritionists and naturopaths call it the perfect food.

Have you been reading western articles on the wonder spice turmeric?

It is our centuries-old haldi.

Even the intoxicatingly lovely aroma of curry leaves used for centuries by our ancestors is now being appreciated.

Almost every seed or spice common in our cooking has benefits – from ajwain to sarson, methi, saunf; from piaz, to adrakh, lahsun, pudhina, dhania; from ilaichi to jira, methi, rai, laung, dalchini.

Every Indian state has its own healthy, simple recipes that if cooked without excess ghee or other saturated fats can be so good for us; and of course, we all know that excess fried foods and too much of mithai should be avoided and hopefully we all know the benefits of isabgol.

So, let us be gloriously healthy and eat lots of raw fresh fruits and vegetables and freshly cooked vegetables every day as much as we can and as calmly as we can. And delight in our curds, dals, khuri kitchri, idli, dhokla, sambhar, whole wheat roti, rajma, bhindi ki sabji, spicy chana masala, spinach, kobi chi bhaji, matar paneer, aloo gobi,  raita, saag, moong bhaji, baigan bharta and lots of leafy greens and nuts.

Am I making you hungry yet? I love being Indian!



Dear Didi,

I want our children to learn about our culture and one way, I think, is to read books by South Asian authors or books with South Asian characters, or ones set in the countries we come from. In a discussion on books with a close friend, I was taken aback when she said I was being racist. Or reverse-racist, restricting my kids’ reading. I am not restricting, I explained, but it got me wondering, is it wrong of me to do so?                                 – Booked

We always try to do what’s best for the children and hopefully for us, as well. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy on what is right or wrong. I’m highly cautious of those that are so quick to judge when it comes to how we parent. I believe your strategy is a pretty sound one, and why not utilize all the resources you have available to you!

Your children will get to see kids who look like them and learn a little more about their South Asian culture in a fun and entertaining way. You are using these books as educational tools and quite frankly, it’s really difficult to introduce our culture to our western-born kids. I’m not sure how your friend jumped to reverse-racism for expanding your children’s book selection to include South Asian authors and books rather than restricting them to western authors and books only.

I, for one, applaud you and I too have done something similar for my little ones. I am a Sikh who is raising our children (one who is bi-racial) within the culture. I certainly didn’t learn about Sikhism from my parents because they were illiterate and didn’t know how to read or write English or Punjabi. Now we have books about Sikhism which are in English and more accessible to the masses. I wish I had been able to read these stories when I was growing up and I’m grateful that I can provide these opportunities to my own children.

There is a wonderful small publisher called Saffron Press which is run by a Sikh family and I have the privilege of knowing them personally. The author of some of their books is also the publisher and she is a retired teacher. I have purchased books from them for my own son (who’s eight now) and as gifts for my nieces, nephews and friends’ kids from other cultures. Recently, when we adopted our beautiful baby girl, she was fortunate enough to be given as a gift some books from the same publisher by a loving, supportive educator who is a dear friend. We can’t all be wrong, can we? Keep doing what you are doing. We parents will all have some stumbles along the way, but if we support one another and encourage each other to do what we can to instill our culture into how we raise our children, we are on the right path.

I know your children will thank you for it one day. And that’s the only thing that counts!

 • Kulbinder Saran Caldwell



In his book, Designed for Dignity, Richard Pratt refers to a newspaper article entitled “The Irony of Being Human”.

The columnist reported two events that occurred on the same day.

In the first story, a young woman was sitting in her hotel room. She had left her husband and her two children to live with another man. But that evening her new man deserted her. She lost everything – her husband, her children and now her lover. In her despair, she put a pistol into her mouth and pulled the trigger. A note on her nightstand, said, “Don’t cry for me; I‘m not even human anymore.”

In that same hotel, a few floors below, followers of the New Age Movement gathered together in a conference room. After several sessions, a well-known celebrity led the crowd to say in unison, “I am God!...I am God!...I am God!”

“The irony of being human,”  the article concluded, “is that people in the same time and place can have such contradictory views of themselves. One says, ‘I am nothing’. The other says, ‘I am God’. Which one is true?” 

Neither is true. So what does it mean to be human?

God created man and woman in His image; that is, in His likeness. This is what makes people human. Man is not God, but neither is he an animal. So what does it mean that God made man in His likeness? He created man to live in a right relationship with Him, to truly know Him and to love Him with all his heart.

But man today no longer knows himself. Why not? The image of God is broken in man. The image is broken because he broke the relationship with God through sin. Men and women are still human but they no longer know God or themselves. Unlike animals, they still have a sense of ‘right and wrong’; they still have a sense of God. They are still able to speak and reason. But we are born spiritually dead and morally corrupt. The bro-kenness of God’s image is seen in pain, in misery, in death.

The broken image is like looking into a shattered mirror.

Can the image of God be restored in us again? Is it pos-sible? Yes, by believing in Christ He restores us to a right relationship with God again. He has the power to forgive and to make us whole again so that we can truly know God, live with Him forever and love Him with our hearts! That’s our hope!• Reverend Tony Zekveld can be reached at 416-740-0543 and tzekveld@primus,ca.

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