Introduction: Your Prateek Agarwal (Pilani, ’06) is a software engineer turned farmer. He shifted to Seattle in 2017 to work with Amazon. He recently set up GuruKripa Farms & Gaushala. Here he talks about how the shift happened, what were the reasons for such a drastic shift, and how all of it came along.
American Dream to COVID Nightmare
My American dream brought me to Amazon Seattle in 2017. My spouse and I were earning an enviable income with all the benefits anyone could ask for, owned a house in a posh Redmond neighborhood, and had all the conveniences literally at our fingertips. It was everything that I could ever imagine living in comfort. It seemed like our life was all set for the course.
Until it was not to be. An inflection point came during the COVID pandemic when I had a health scare, being diagnosed with metabolic and orthopaedic conditions which were degrading my quality of life. The sedentary 24/7 virtual work lifestyle was not particularly helpful as well. At 32, I refused to accept that I have to live with lifelong medications and accept my fate as a patient. I started researching the underlying causes of my state. My research brought forth a dismal and rather scary state of food systems and health in this country.
Are We Eating Healthy?
Over 80% of the food produced today is junk or highly processed. Research has shown significant lifestyle and chronic diseases linked to an unhealthy diet.
Even the supposed fresh organic food shelved in expensive superstores is at least a month old since harvest, never mind how long it has been sitting on the shelves. Add to it, they are covered with toxic pesticides and fungicides for increasing shelf life, which have long-term ill effects on health.
What this is leading to is around 70% of all adults in the United States are on some form of prescription medication to survive. The rest are popping health supplements because the food is not nutritious enough.
The reason this is happening is that chemical farming is the leading system of agriculture today which is bad not just for individual health but contributes a whopping 15% to greenhouse gases leading to climate change.
It gets worse. UN agencies are saying by the year 2025, current agricultural practices around the world would produce 60% less food for around 9 billion people. I don’t know about anyone else, but that level of food scarcity looks like a recipe for social anarchy and disaster to me.
Moment of Truth
Knowing this was a revelation for me and I could not sit back and relax on Netflix anymore. Both for myself as well as for the larger community, I wanted to be part of the solution rather than an unwitting participant in the problem. I decided to issue a challenge, quit my full-time job, and start a small-scale farm enterprise. The name of my venture is GuruKripa Farms & Gaushala, and my mission is to restore people’s connection with local farm fresh produce, promote healthy practices and espouse a natural lifestyle.
I do not know if I was being stupid or courageous, but I know I am the happiest I have ever been. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, I knew that I had to lead by example if I had to truly make an impact.
I don’t know for sure today where this will take me, but I am hopeful that I will be able to inspire other folks like me who are sitting on the fence and hesitating to take the next step. On a larger front, I wish to make this grassroots initiative a model that can be replicated, creating a network of like-minded enterprises that can amplify the impact from a local to a global level. I invite fellow alumni to visit the farm, spread the word, and partner with me in building this venture if it interests you and you wish to make a positive change in this world.
Link to the website: https://gurukripafarms.com/about/
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