How organic is your food?

How organic is your food?

Go green

The organic food industry is one of the booming segment if one goes by TechSci Research 2015 report “India Organic Food Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2020” that highlights that ‘the organic food market in India is projected to register an annual growth of over 25 per cent during 2015-20’. But several questions have been raised by sceptics, including naturopaths, who often contest the “purity” and “quality” of organic products hence injecting a doubt in the mind of buyers.

However , there are many who feel it boils down to the customer’s awareness and alertness while buying these products. Metrolife spoke to a few people to understand what it entails to choose a “safe, pure and wholly natural” organic product which are touted to be “persticide-free”.

‘Gurgaon Organic Farmers’ Market’ is an initiative which gives a platform to organic farmers and customers to not only buy and sell but interact on every Sunday. As a part of the organising team, Manas Arvind points out “no bit of research and reports” can truly establish the credibility of the produce until the consumer is aware about the nitty-gritty of production and distribution. He says, “While the idea in the initiative is for both the farmers and the customers to find each other and interact, the problem of today’s scepticism about the quality and purity emerges simply because customers are hardly able to meet the farmer in person and understand how the entire process is carried out.”

As an ultra-endurance cyclist, Arvind was “intrigued” by the significance of food and nutrition for a sportsman. He then discovered traditional Indian food and organic produce. “Over a period of time, I learnt that the produce was clean, processed naturally and without chemicals because I started meeting so many farmers dealing in such a produce,” says Gurgaon-based Arvind.

While ‘growing health consciousness’ and ‘favourable government initiatives’ are major factors for the surge in demand for organic food products in India, other factors driving growth in the market include higher income levels and improving living standards. But it has to be supplemented with enough know-how. “First and foremost, organic farming is extremely good but people need to understand that in India, there are large areas which are naturally organic. The places where small tribal farming happens, for instance all across Mangalore

(Karnataka), the entire state of Uttarakhand and large parts of Himachal Pradesh are inherently good for organic farming. So, in the country, there is no organic farming on a large-scale and those who claim to be pan-India organic producers, I would say, be a bit apprehensive of them,” says Richa Pant, founder of Uttarakhand-based ‘The Himalayan Farm Project’, an upcoming organic farm for ecological awareness.

Saurabh Tiwari, chief marketing officer, Organic India which is commercially known for its ‘organically grown Tulsi teas’ says that the consumer should solely go by the “Indian and international certifications” which assure “quality”. Whereas, Pant, an enthusiast of food to fork movement (idea of consuming local and fresh food) for over a decade, says, “One also needs to invest in understanding the regional, local and seasonal produce and not blindly follow.”

Agrees Arvind, “If we as customers buy vegetables like cauliflower, peas and
carrot for the winters which are sourced within 500 kilometres from where we live,
that can solve much of our problems!” He adds that customers need to take out time and understand the specifications before just seeing the label ‘organic’. “Just like normal products, I take it with a pinch of salt each time I buy such products,”
he says.

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