If there is one area where the coronavirus pandemic is causing massive rethinking, it is in what we eat, where we get our food from, and how the food is produced, stored, and prepared. There is a growing awareness regarding the health benefits of a natural, balanced diet which is boosting the demand of organic, sustainable foods. We find out more
Why go organic ?
As people are searching for healthy food to feed their families, organic fruits, vegetables, pulses, cereals etc are proving to be the food of choice for home. “Organic foods are composed of the natural and organic ingredients that are cultivated as per standards of organic farming. They do not contain any artificial preservatives to sustain a longer interval of time,” says dietitian Garima Goyal. Bengaluru-based consultant Swati Singla says that she first started buying organic vegetables when she chanced upon a stall called Healthy Buddha at a local event. “At that time organic vegetables were not that easily available and even if they were marketed as organic, one wasn’t sure about the authenticity. Although, the produce was expensive than the regular produce, I immediately noticed the difference when I started consuming raw veggies in salads and juices. The cost can be deterrent for large families but I feel the health benefits supersede the cost. Having switched to organic vegetables and fruits, the difference in the flavour and taste is very apparent now,” adds Shingla.
The organic market and its challenges While organic’s growing popularity isn’t new, more consumers are eating and using organic food than ever before. Having said that, the Indian organic market is yet to flourish. Manu Khera, director of an IT company, Ahmedabad says, “I have been using organic veggies for more than one year and I have five different vendors who deliver organic produce. From kale, springmint to bhindi, I get all my veggies from the organic vendors. Sometimes, the supply is erratic and sometimes the quality isn’t that great. I made the switch for health reasons. Of course, my ultimate goal is to grow my own vegetables and have the farm to table experience within a short span.”
Consider a home farm
Organic farming has suddenly mushroomed in the midst of COVID -19. “Organizations and individuals are highly encouraged to adapt DIY techniques to grow clean produce in rented lands all across India. Organic farming stems from production of fresh food and livestock without adding any artificial agents like herbicides, pesticides, weedicides, fertilizers and GMO’s. Farming has drastically changed over the years, rightfully. If you’re focussing on eating right, it’s great to lean towards clean eating from a genuine source. Besides health benefits, there are environmental benefits of organic farming too. It’s like using an electric car vs a petrol car, the damage done is devastating and irreparable,” says integrative nutritionist Payal Kothari. Think developing a home farm in your balcony to grow simple herbs and plants like mint, basil, thyme, oregano and lettuce that don’t require too much hassle and maintenance.
5 things to keep in mind when buying organic
- Licensing – Farming companies should have their licenses and authentications in place from the government and private sector. This instills your faith in their produce.
- Direct support to farmers – Make sure you’re supporting the farmers. Purchasing from organic farmers can benefit them immensely and secure their future generations.
- Check appearance – If something is naturally and organically grown, expect different shades or shapes. For example, it’s normal to have different shades of yellow in your moong dal instead of the uniformly bleached yellow of the regular packaged dal.
- Read the label –Read the label and check for any preservatives present in the product; most preservatives are petroleum based — you surely don’t want to be consuming those!
- The smell and taste test – The aroma and texture of organic food is totally different — very potent, in fact. Organic spices, for instance, will have a strong aroma and flavour as they retain their oil content. For example, your tongue will have a strong sensation after half a teaspoon of organic ajwain.