India is the home of oilseed diversity—coconut, groundnut, linseed, niger, mustard and rapeseed, safflor, sesame. Our food cultures have evolved with our biodiversity of oilseeds. Sarson is called “Sarsapa” and “Rajika” in Sanskrit. Diverse Varieties of Sarson are are grown and used in India, including Krsna Sarsapa (Banarsi Rai), Sita Sarsapa (Pila Sarson), Rakta Sarsapa (Brown Sarson), Toria, and Taramira.
On August 27th, 1998, the government announced a policy of free import of soyabean, while simultaneously banning sale of mustard oil using the tragedy of adulteration of mustard oil in Delhi with argemone, diesel, waste oil. While it was referred to as the dropsy epidemic, our visits to hospitals showed multiple symptoms because of the multiple sources of adulteration. The interesting thing about the mustard tragedy was that ALL brands were affected, and only in Delhi. . A typical adulteration is in one brand , across the supply chain.
It was women from the slums of Delhi who called us at Navdanya and said “our children are going to bed hungry because they cannot eat food cooked in soya oil”; “Bring our mustard back.”