This generation is all about going back to its roots, and opting for natural foods and products and staying in touch with the Earth. An area that is emerging at a rate that surprises many, is the organic space. Companies, agro brands, some part of the mainstream retail sector and entrepreneurs have spotted the potential that the organic space has to boom into an industry of its own, what with all the news of climate crisis and stopping to employ chemicals in our daily routines. Bingedaily spoke to entrepreneurs in the organic space in India who highlight how they managed to make a name for themselves and if the space is soon going to be mainstream.
What is meant by organic food and do we see much of it in India?
Simply put, organic food is that which is produced with no addition of chemicals, additives, fertilisers that will boost productivity, artificial flavours, colouring etc. When it comes to the case of animals and their products, these are not given any hormones or supplements that will boost productivity. In its essence, organic is as natural as it gets.
To answer the question of whether India does have a name in the organic space, it barely is up and coming. According to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, as of March 2020, two per cent of the net sown area in the country is under organic farming which indicates the niche has massive potential to grow and expand.
What are the benefits of organic farming in India?
It is better for you, better for the environment and certainly better for our peace of mind with the impending climate crisis that is upon us. Organic farming in India is seen as beneficial not just for you but for the planet at large.
How? The nutrients reaching you through the food chain are statistically proven to be more in the case of organic foods compared to their non-organic counterparts. Whether it is antioxidants or micronutrients, organic has more amounts of these and this would mean a healthier diet per se. Foods that are grown organically, without the use of pesticides and fertilisers are said to have lower levels of nitrates, which are linked to causing cancers in humans. Omega-3 Fatty Acids that have a host of benefits are also abundant in organic meats. Humans have much to benefit from organic farming in India and it also reduces pollution, conserves the quality of soil and groundwater and helps the planet.
Is organic food actually better for you?
Ritika Temkar, Chief Creative Officer speaks about The Organic Garden, highlighting how it is a decade old company started by her parents as a social initiative to give back to the country that gave them so much. “The inception of the company was at a time when most people in India were unaware of what organic food was. This was the case with most of our farmers as well. My parents worked at the grassroots level to employ experts in the Organic Farming Industry to help educate and encourage non-organic farmers to eliminate the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.”
With a food mantra knowledge borrowed from the oldest, highly advanced ancient civilisation - The Vedic civilisation, the company works to give back to society, relearn a symbiotic relationship with their biggest ally - Mother Nature, create regenerative communities and evolve the future of health and nutrition.
We ask Ritika if organic is truly better from a health perspective as indicated by research. She agrees saying that organic fruits and vegetables are alive, unlike conventional ones which are coated with waxes and sprayed with chemicals, basically mummifying them. “Organic farming treats nature as it is meant to be treated, without any intervention of harmful pesticides and chemicals, which destroy our soils, our water systems, and wreak havoc on our bodies. There has recently been a global wake-up call to be more conscious about how we eat - from both, a health and environmental perspective. Research has shown that organic farms are higher in soil microbiome content and fertility which ensures healthy soils for us as well as our future generations. It is thus the most holistic and wholesome food production system for a better future.”
What are the organic farming protocols implemented by The Organic Garden?
- Organic Farmers are not allowed to use any chemical pesticides or fertilisers, nor do we spray or wax our foods with artificial colours and waxes
- Our farming methods combine scientific knowledge of ecology and some modern technology with traditional practices based on naturally occurring biological processes
- Crop rotation - which optimises nutrients in the soil and puts the least possible pressure on it
- The use of green manures and compost as natural fertilisers
- Biological pest control - by using natural deterrents rather than their chemical alternatives
- Soil management through regular introduction of good bacteria into the soil to strengthen it
- Weed management where weeds are reduced rather than completely eradicated
- All of our processes are regenerative practices that ensure prolonged health for our soil and water systems
Why is organic the future?
At Zama Organics, the team works directly with farmers and artisans in India to provide high-quality groceries, fresh fruits, and veggies that are organically and sustainably grown. “We at Zama aim to create a healthier and sustainable tomorrow in all aspects (social, environmental, economic) and to also spearhead a collaborative organic movement for Indian farmers, artisans, and consumers,” says Shriya Naheta Wadhwa, Founder.
She says that with people being more conscious about their choices related to health and the environment, opting for sustainably grown organic produce is the ideal option. “A large reason why organic food demand is increasing in India is because of increased digital literacy, which people use to learn about the benefits of organic products and the perils of chemicals and fertilizers used during farming.”
What are the organic farming protocols implemented by Zama Organics?
- We work with farmers directly and they use natural methods of growing like vermicomposting, composting and jivamrit
- We only work with farmers that are NPOP, NOP and PGS standardized like us to ensure authenticity
Bringing back a forgotten lifestyle
Three people came together in 2019 with a common mission - to change the ways of consumption and bring back a wholesome lifestyle that has been lost in time. farm से. (farmseindia) - Greenobazaar ( Legal name - Shudh Jivan retail Pvt ltd)
Yash Mehta, Raj Jain and Rajan Patel started the firm with the aim of providing people access to clean, healthy and organic lifestyle options. “For us, the aim is not just organic food, but it's about bringing back the whole lifestyle change.”
farm से. started Gujarat’s 1st BYOC (Bring your own container store) focused store with a ‘Pay by waste’ policy. “Here people were allowed to bring their paper and plastic waste which was accepted as payment for their shopping. It acted as a motivator for people especially for kids who started to collect waste that was thrown previously. This habit promoted them to understand the kinds of waste, the harms it had on the environment and why it should not be generated non-sensibly.”
What came as a shocking revelation to the trio was that the food that the people around them were consuming was completely treated with pesticides, hazardous fertilisers and weedicides to eliminate unwanted plants. “We realized that everybody wanted to eat the best, but no one knew from where they could actually buy chemical-free food. Everybody knew about the injections used in vegetables, chemicals used to ripen fruits but no one actually had an option.”
Yash says that since his visit to the US and Europe, he saw a rising craze of organic in these areas but after the pandemic, in India too, a lot of people have become conscious about health, clean eating and organic food. “Indian organic food market is expected to grow from $177.14 million in FY2020 to $553.87 million in FY2026, according to ResearchAndMarkets report. In our understanding, since India has the highest number of organic farmers across the globe, and since there is rising education and urban population too, the demand for these products shall shoot up.”
What are the organic farming protocols implemented by Farmse?
- We are mainly tied up with farmers who grow organically. We have developed a rapport with them and we also keep a regular check and monitoring via random sampling of their produce at the Gujarat laboratory
- We have some value-added products like trail mixers which are from our cofounders Mom's recipes and are slow-roasted and made in our godown itself
- All our products are non-preservative, preferably made with honey and contain no food additives. The main mantra in production is to ensure the cleanest eating option for people to eat healthily and live a life that has been long lost in our run towards other luxuries
Organic seems to be the future. Are you willing to transition to this mode of life too?