Monday, January 25, 2010

ORGANIC FOOD IN INDIA - An interview with Dr. Anjali Pathak, naturopath and organic consultant

Dr Anjali Pathak
Will organic ingredients make a noticeable difference in gourmet and home cooking?
A world of difference! Organic food tastes better, looks better, feels better and nourishes better than chemically grown food. You may not be a gourmet cook but if you cook with organic ingredients you will get rave reviews and lavish praise from all who taste the feast.

We all love our baingan bhurta, so why this fuss over Bt brinjal?
Because Bt brinjal may kill or maim us and our children in silent and unexpected ways. We still do not know enough about the long term effects of genetically modified food upon the human body. We may be able to produce more food in terms of quantity but whether this food is going to be healthy food remains unanswered to date.

Agreed that organic food is healthy but why aren’t more shops selling it?
Good question. Firstly, most of the organic food being grown in India is being exported abroad. Secondly, the supply chain from the farmer to the shopkeeper is erratic and fluctuating as far as organic food is concerned. Thirdly, the high cost of space rental in big cities means that organic stores often cannot break even. And fourthly, consumer consciousness and hence consumer demand for organic food is low. In fact an ASSOCHAM study revealed that only 3.3% of the population in our metropolitan cities opt for organic food.

Where can I find fresh organic produce, cereals and pulses in Mumbai?
The Yusuf Meherally Centre in Babulnath carries fresh produce. Dosti Land Developers who have farms in Dahanu also carry fresh produce and do home deliveries. For dry staples there are a number of supermarkets and hypermarkets including chains like Spinach, Akbarally’s, Godrej Nature’s Basket, Food Bazaar, Spencer’s and Fabindia. Navdanya, Conscious Food and Nishtha Organics are stand alone stores. Firdaus Bakhshay is a manufacturer and bulk supplier of 25 varieties of natural cheese, fruit yogurt, processed meats and omega 3 eggs.

And what about organic restaurants, can you suggest a few names?
There is a paucity of good organic restaurants in our metros but hopefully more will open soon. Navdanya restaurant at Dilli Haat serves delicious meals prepared with organic ingredients.
Sunil Jalihal, an IT fellow turned entrepreneur has opened up a branded organic salad and juice bar with outlets in Bangalore and Pune called deli,in. Unfortunately deli.in is only operating on IT campuses. Sunil is optimistic about opening more deli.in outlets in say Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai if business investors come forth to invest in the chain
Seva Café in Ahmedabad sources its raw materials from an organic farm near town and the food it serves is simple, delicious and down-to-earth (www.sevacafe.org).




You are saying that commonplace food items like sugar and tea are full of chemicals. So what is a healthy substitute for my daily cups of chai?Have herbal tea and better still prepare it at home. This is not chai, rather it is a “kadha” or herbal decoction or infusion and it tastes delicious. My personal favourite is tulsi-ginger, lemongrass, geranium, mint and rosehips (I collect them from wild rose bushes). Add honey or jaggery or palm jaggery as a sweetener and a dash of lemon if you must. Organic green tea is also great and yes, it is being produced and sold in India. Look for the MAKAIBARI brand of green tea in the stores. This is being grown in Darjeeling and is 100% organic. For those who are short on time, several varieties of herbal tea, both Indian and imported are available on the shelves of supermarkets in the big cities.

In which areas of India can a traveler expect to get well prepared organically grown food?
In the tribal, remote areas of India food is still being grown organically today. The northeast has organic food by and large but their preparations are simple, almost bland for the taste buds of urban people. Still the food is wholesome and grows on you if you eat it for a couple of weeks. The same hold true for Bastar in Chattisgarh or Wayanad in Kerala, Leh in Ladakh, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh, Kutch in Gujarat… The list is a long one!

Several eco-resorts all over India are growing and serving their own organic vegetables and fruits, like the Hermitage near Belgaum; Soans Farms, Moodabidri, Karnataka, Rainforest Retreat in Coorg; Tranquil Plantation Hideaway, Sultan Bathery, Wayanad; Philipkutty’s farm, Kottayam, Kerala; The Bamboo Resort in Sikkim; Karmi Farm, Darjeeling; Yangsum Farm, Rinchenpong, Sikkim; the Ahilya Fort hotel in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh; Wildernest at Swapnagandha, Chorla Ghat, and Savoi Plantation in Goa; Himalayan Village, Sonapani, Kumaon; Ambiya Himalayan Paradise, Kodiya, Garhwal; Shahpura Bagh in Shahpura, and Apani Dhani in Nawalgarh, Rajasthan and many, many more.

Tell us about your book ANNAM BRAHMA: Organic Food in India, in a nutshell.
ANNAM BRAHMA: Organic Food in India (Pilgrims Publishing, Varanasi, 2009) is a compilation of articles by organic farmers, organic shop owners, ayurvedic vaidyas and naturopaths. All recount their personal journeys which led them to either grow, sell or prescribe organic food and the changes it has brought about in the lives of their customers and patients as well as in their own lives. It also has a 50 page all India organic directory to assist readers in finding a good place to source their organic food supply. Swamini Mayatitananda who healed herself of cancer by living on a carefully planned diet of organic food has written an enlightening preface to the book Organic Food: Honouring Mother Earth. Organic food is available all over India and probably in a location close to you at rates which are pretty reasonable. So get out your shopping bags and make a beeline for organic food. Life is amazing and fun with organic food!


GYAN and Links:
ANNAM BRAHMA: Organic Food in India, ed. Anjali Pathak ( Rs. 650, Pilgrims Publishing, Varanasi) is available at Strand Book Stall (ph:22661917, 22661994), Oxford Book Store (ph:66364477) and Chetna Book Centre (ph:22851243 ) in Mumbai; and at Bahri Sons (ph:24694610), Oxford Book Store (ph: 23766083), Om Bookshop (ph:41664200), Bookmark (ph:24693216) and Midland (ph:24653880) in Delhi.





12 comments:

rashi said...

organic vegs and fruits are now available in mumbai.. call 9920296989 to place your orders.. or mail to viraorganics@gmail.com...

gramyasiri said...

organic products (rice,dals,wheat,chilly,etc..) including vegs and fruits are now available in bangalore,basavangudi.. call 944848633 to place your orders.. or mail to ojas.nisarga@gmail.com...

gramyasiri said...

correction for phone number-9449848633

sanjay said...

certified organic products like rice, brown rice, wheat flour, breakfast cereals, dals, pulses, spices, mustard oils, tea, coffee, amla candy, sugar, jaggery jams, pickles etc are available with free home delivery facility at Indirapura,ghaziabad.Contact09873907470, 9873907471, 0120-4236297.email:sumeru.sanjay@gmail.com
Sanjay Shrivastava, bv-104 hrc 1/2 vaibhavkhand indirapuram ghaziabad 201010

Piers Moore Ede said...

Nice piece Rushina. Great to read about organic food taking off in India. Vandana Shiva's work with Slow Food India is also interesting.

HyunChard said...

Organic food is not healthier, because Organic products are products that are not subjected to any type of rules or regulations.
The healthier one is the Certified organic products that are governed by certification bodies which carry out a series of tests and inspections. See the difference?
Now, I just wish I'll have some Certified organic food delivered to my place.

Rekha Shirbhate said...

Great NEWS for AKOLA people --

Go and Get Organic at

Mitha Baba Organic Food Shopee,
Lahariya sankul -1,
Kaulkheda square,
Akola.. M.S.

PH-9405517565
9422193275

Rekha Shirbhate said...

Great NEWS for AKOLA people --

Go and Get Organic at

Mitha Baba Organic Food Shopee,
Lahariya sankul -1,
Kaulkheda square,
Akola.. M.S.

PH-9405517565
9422193275

amit said...

Make Healthy organic food products accessible for every one with organikyou.com. One of the leading Online Organic Food Store in North India.

Ashwin said...

India seems to be increasingly preferring in the usage of organic foods. Now that they're coming up, there is a huge market for their sales.

I found an online portal stocking a full range of organic products. Visit www.boxtree.in

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