The grand organic food opera

Last Updated 16 July 2010, 10:37 IST
The grand organic food opera

Like Cliff Richard who sang, ‘Searching for a Green Light’, people in Bangalore, with depleting green cover and increasing stress and pollution, are looking for solutions which will keep their sanity and health intact.

A growing number of Bangaloreans are consciously choosing organic food. They have a wide choice as a number of outlets have sprung up across the City offering organic fruits, vegetables, pulses, spices and other food items. Bakeries and supermarkets stock whole-grain and multi-grain bread, biscuits and even noodles, unheard of a decade ago. Branded and certified organic food products are available in most supermarkets besides exclusive organic outlets.

Green tea, said to have anti-oxidant and anti-cholesterol properties, savoured without
milk or sugar, is slowly replacing conventional tea. It is quite a trend in many corporate offices in the City.

The consumer of organic food is today wiser and understands that organic vegetables and fruits cannot look uniformly similar and evenly coloured like the imported, hybrid and genetically modified fruits and vegetables which have flooded the market. For instance, the informed consumer does not expect a tomato to be perfectly-shaped and have a bright red hue.

There is a marked preference for food that is cooked without additives, preservatives, baking soda, ajinomoto, hydrogenated fats and artificial flavours and colours. The dark green palak paneer, the vivid orange kalmi kabab and the bright blue aerated drink, all made to look appealing with added colours, do not find favour with many consumers.
A major drawback in shopping for organic produce is the price, which is marginally higher. However, the upwardly mobile Bangalorean does not mind shelling out a little extra for quality and good health.

Bangalore shows the way
Organic food and produce derived from farming is not entirely new to Karnataka or for that matter Bangalore, which was once famous (and still is) for its Bangalore Blues, a variety of grapes. A few decades ago, in and around Whitefield, people used to grow Bangalore Green Apples, which were sold in Russell Market and other local markets.
Retired IAS officer KSN Murthy, who is now in his late seventies, remembers these apples which were a little larger than marbles and were both sweet and tangy in taste.

In the past, subsistence farming was largely organic, especially when farmers could not afford to buy expensive chemicals and fertilisers. Organic farming got a fillip in recent times when the litterateur, late K P Purnachandra Tejaswi, translated Masanobu Fukuoka’s classic on natural farming, ‘The One-Straw Revolution’ (‘Ondu hullina kranthi’).
Although the book itself was about the philosophy behind natural farming and not organic farming, it inspired a lot of literate and progressive farmers, besides hobbyist farmers, to take up organic farming. It inspired persons like H R Jayaram, a lawyer and farmer, who has a farm on the outskirts of Bangalore and many others like him.

The organic farming movement led to the formation of Jaivik Krishik Society (JKS), a federation of Karnataka’s organic farmers. To meet the demands of Bangaloreans, Jaivik Krishik Society, promoted by the Horticulture Department, opened Jaivik Mall, said to be the country’s biggest organic department store. Located on the premises of Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, the store offers organic food products such as fruits, vegetables, spices, health products, beverages, herbal cosmetics, baby food, handicrafts, gift items and bakery products. The mall which was established with funds provided by National Horticultural Mission and the Karnataka Horticultural Department receives fresh organic vegetable and fruits from 50 farmer groups every Wednesday and Saturday. Besides Jaivik there are a number of certified organic food stores in the City. 

One of the deterrents to take up organic farming is that the farmers have to meet stricter quality standards to have their products certified ‘organic’. Unless there is abundant organic produce and competition, prices of organic produce are unlikely to come down.
Organic food consumption will continue to be an exclusive and elitist movement.

But there is hope. The government has already initiated a project wherein every district and taluk will have 50 to 80 hectares of an ‘organic village’, where only organic food is grown. In a couple of years almost 150 taluk and district centres will have organic outlets. Indeed, the organic food movement is gaining momentum.

The grand organic food opera

Eat green, live green
If you are a visitor to Bangalore and a hardcore organic food patron, then there are several places for you to visit — be they eco-friendly resorts, organic food stores and sattvik restaurants.

Our Native Village, a resort on the outskirts of Bangalore in Doddaballapur taluk, gives you a slice of Indian village life with a range of activities such as cow milking, bullock cart rides, kite flying, bicycle riding and organic farming. Its eco features include renewable energy, eco construction, waste recycling, organic produce and a chemical-free pool.

At the Greenpath Eco-friendly Serviced Apartments, attached with a 24-hour organic restaurant, you can enjoy an eco-friendly lifestyle in harmony with nature along with organic food. The South Indian, North Indian, Chinese and Continental food served here is organic. For sheer variety, there are eco tours, visits to organic farms and farm stays.
Eco friendly initiatives used in such hotels include use of solar panels as alternative energy resources, eco-friendly lighting, composting of waste food, use of bio-degradable cleaning agents, filtered rain water for drinking, solar kitchens, interiors made of eco-friendly materials, solar water heaters, use of herbal, natural and organic products like soaps and oils and natural and organic shampoos.

While there are numerous vegetarian restaurants in Bangalore, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has gone a step ahead by promoting ‘The Higher Taste’, a sattvic dining restaurant. The restaurant offers buffets and a la carte options, and caters meals for corporate events and special occasions.

Organic stores in the City

*Adi Naturals, 620, 6th D Main, 11th Cross, 3rd Phase, JP Nagar
*Era Organics, 348, Dollars Colony, RMV Club Double Road, RMV Second Stage, Sanjaynagar
*Dharani, ISKCON’s Organic Outlet, ISKCON Temple Complex
*Green Channel, 20/1, Ali Asker Road (off Cunningham Road)
*Health Food Stores, Sadashivnagar
*Jaiva, 8, Hospital Road (parallel to Infantry Road), next to Subway
*Jaivik Mall, Lalbagh
*Khandige, 68/1, Jaraganahalli, Near Sarakki Gate, Kanakpura Main Road
*Namdhari’s Fresh, No 821, Kusal Arcade, 20th Main, 80 Ft Road, Opp National Games Village, Koramangala
*Namdhari’s Fresh, No 34, Doopanahalli Road, 60 Ft Domlur Road, Indiranagar
*Sahaja Samrudhdhi, Sultan Palya
*24 Lettered Mantra, 686, 16th Main, 39th Cross, 4th T Block, Jayanagar
*24 Lettered Mantra,  Belandur, Outer Ring Road
*Ostara Shop, 3201, 7th Main (Shirdi Sai Baba Road), HAL 2nd Stage
*Plant Rich, Hebbal.
*Prakrithi — Eco friendly shop, Airport Whitefield Road, Ramagondanahalli
(Note: This list does not purport to be exhaustive. Many supermarkets and departmental stores also stock organic food products.)

(Published 16 July 2010, 10:35 IST)

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