It’s time to go green, eat clean

The concept of ‘grow your greens’ is slowly taking over the food scene in the country, writes Pooja Prabbhan

Green is in

With the concept of growing your own greens and going local becoming commonplace among urban Indians, the trend is making big strides in the country’s culinary landscape. Quaint cafes, as well as star hotels, are shifting towards an only ‘garden to the table’ concept, to keep up with the gastronomical preferences of the ever-evolving health-conscious Indian palate. But, is there a success code to follow to ensure one can pursue this way of being for a long term? How feasible are these options for burgeoning eateries and newbie
gardeners? Let’s find out...

Local is best

“Hyper-local food sourcing, or when a restaurant grows its own ingredients, is the number one concept trend since 2017 among restaurants. That means restaurant gardens and farms are beating out other major culinary movements, such as using natural products and following environmentally sustainable practices. It’s a trend that will stay on,” begins Sakshi Sagaraju, founder of Bangalore Brew Works.

Attributing the success and feasibility of the trend to rise in those opting for plant-based diets, Shibendu Ray Chaudhury, executive sous chef, Fairmont Jaipur avers, “A volley of popular chefs, including the likes of Alain Passard, Rene Redzepi are changing their restaurant concepts to complete vegetarian menus. This has also led to the development of organic vegetable gardens, where chefs have started growing their own produce in their hotel/restaurant backyards. Not only does this give food enthusiasts an opportunity to eat the freshest of products, but also to connect with the purest form of ingredients and produce. The organic kitchen garden is a trend which is sustainable, fresh, eco-friendly, nutritious, and supports agroecology, thus being the future of the food industry in the years to come.”

Vouching for the myriad benefits of growing your own greens in your hotel or home kitchen, Sakshi adds, “There are countless benefits to cultivating a self-sufficient approach to product sourcing, from ethical reasons to financial advantages, and a lot of restaurants are getting on this bandwagon.”

Opining how chefs are opting to maintain and run their own vegetable & herb garden to offer a more satisfactory experience to patrons, Chef Shyam Rai, culinary designer, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity, believes menus will now see a lot from this stream especially in the months to come. “The experience of having a farm and plucking veggies to prepare dishes has become a new trend. Chefs now prefer a guest coming to see what is grown and what is served on their plate. It makes the experience a lot more wholesome.” 

From the source

While the trend isn’t alien, some are also of the opinion that growing your own greens is a lifestyle choice. “Sooner than later, people are realising the importance of what they consume, the significance of quality over quantity, and we are happy that the change is happening, and now. We stand by the philosophy of clean eating, which means knowing where your produce comes from, going seasonal and eating fresh. Everything our bodies consume affects us in so many ways, and is not something that can be ignored today, given how many chemicals and preservatives are used in foods,” states Malika Suri, founder of Mimansa@Foxtrot.

Asserting how the concept isn’t as difficult as it seems, she further adds, “Start with easy plants to take care of and go with greens that you consume on a regular basis. Use kitchen waste such as mint leaves, coriander, etc. as they also help in utilising your waste.”

How to grow green

* Go for a beginner’s workshop to nudge you in the right direction, experts today are going out of their ways to educate a newbie. And also try to be a part of a group that’s doing this together, so you don’t get stuck.

* Use wet kitchen waste like eggshells, vegetable peels/roots, etc as compost. Follow Daily Dump for guidelines.

* Water management: Depending on your soil and temperature conditions, the garden needs to be watered accordingly and adequately.

* Garden design: Start always with a small plot of the garden to see how it comes up. No matter how much tips you receive, each garden will have its own characteristics which need to be assessed and adapted to.

* Go Green: To begin with, greens are easy to grow, high in yield, and will give you the confidence to continue. Vegetables like spinach, chilies, brinjal, tomatoes and capsicum can be grown all-year-round. Medicinal plants and herbs like basil, lemongrass, mint and microgreens can be grown in limited spaces. Source seeds and organic soil supplements with care and learn about organic pest-control techniques

(Inputs by Malika Suri & Shibendu Ray Chaudhury)

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