Science Lab on Kitchen Slab

“It may look just like a dry cracker but with a price tag of £15,000 it’s certainly not a snack for the credit crunch”, it said so about an auctioned biscuit from the Titanic. I was just scratching my head how somebody can pay such a crazy price for a biscuit. Then I realized that people are willing to pay over the odds not for that particular commodity, but for its appreciation due to its uniqueness. It is not about its cost but its value for somebody.

Yesterday while going through an article on medicines from plant sources, it read like ‘it is the oldest modern science’. “Oh Yes, really! Why didn’t I know it before”, with a fleeting thought, a smile spread across my face. Suddenly I started appreciating my subject even more. I hold Master’s degree in the branch of knowledge concerned with research of extraction and chemistry of medicinal drugs obtained from plants or other natural sources. Though I am already head over heels for my subject, every time I learn a new fact about it, I adore it even more. It is true that when we know things around us better, we can appreciate them better. On the contrary, an ignorance of the bounties around makes us not appreciate the blessings we use on daily basis in our lives.

“Quite often, when an idea that could be helpful presents itself, we do not appreciate it, for it is so inconspicuous. The expert has, perhaps, no more ideas than the inexperienced, but appreciates more what he has and uses it better”

Use of plants goes to time immemorial, ever since primitive men resorted to the world around him to derive remedies that could alleviate pain and cure illnesses. It is estimated that more than 25% of prescription medicines we buy from medical stores contain plant-derived ingredients. Besides, a high percentage of chemicals we use in our day-to-day life come from complex pathways in plants.

It is interesting to know that only a small percentage of the myriad of plants that exist in this world has still been evaluated for potential pharmaceutical use; that is by the way only a fraction of plant kingdom known to us. Let us not forget that there is a lot beyond this ‘known’ as well. We share this planet with as many as 8.7 million different forms of life. An astonishing 86% of all plants and animals on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be named and catalogued. In spite of the mind-boggling breakthrough in the scientific information available, a vast chunk of the earth is unexplored and we have little to no idea what is there.

“And He has made subservient to you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth, all, from Himself; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.” [Qur’an; 45:13]

The Divine blessings on earth are created for us, and we are using them for our own benefits. However, we are not reflecting upon them to recognize the tremendous goodness hidden in them. Since we cannot realise, we do not appreciate; when we cannot appreciate, we cannot value. The auctioned biscuit from Titanic is just a ‘biscuit’ for all of us, except for the one who sees it as an un-munched 105-year-old biscuit that managed to survive titanic and still lives on.

Being a science graduate, I owe a debt to society. In my endeavor to create an atmosphere of appreciation, I want to bring science to life. It should not be reserved to research articles, journals, theses and formularies for scholars only. I feel so happy when I see my classmates on LinkedIn, making great contributions to medical sciences, but feel sad at the same time finding it beyond the reach of understanding of a layman.

Why not I try to fill this gap. Let me try if I can convey some of the most amazing scientific facts hidden in the most common things we use daily; maybe we can value them better and be grateful to Allaah SWT for them. Since my life in the kitchen gives me absolute joy, let us start exploring the science in basic kitchen ingredients. Let us bring some cheer and appreciation in our kitchens. Let me set the science lab on the kitchen slab; the least I can do.

Sisterly Yours
The Might of Pen