There has been a serious paradigm shift in the minds of many Indian consumers about organic produce as a growing section of the population becomes increasingly health conscious. Organic produce; grown without the use of any pesticides, chemical fertilisers or genetic modification has become the new lifestyle choice for many Indians today. With gourmet food stores on the rise in leading metropolitan cities, organically grown produce is now a statement about how conscious you are and about what goes into your body.
Although every authority on organic food in India is adamant about the fact that organic produce shouldn’t be considered a luxury, and should be made readily available to everyone, the fact remains that as of now the reach of these products is to a certain luxury segment of the market. According to Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee of Indigo in Mumbai, “The manufacture of organic produce in the country is still very niche, but if you go back to the beginning of agriculture, everything was produced organically. It’s only in recent times that we began using chemicals and genetic modification to grow food. Now, the entire process has been bastardised, shortened and corrupted, which is why if you want organic food today, it is available to you at a premium price.” The reason for this is that the production of organic ingredients is on such a small scale that the supply is limited. On the other hand, it’s easier and cheaper to grow grain, vegetables and the like with the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers making it freely available and cheap. Megha, avid blogger and the brains behind i2cook organic products says, “Organic is not a luxury, but a necessity, however, considering that the growth of organic farming is yet to receive mass acceptance and the requirements of following this path are not inexpensive, the end cost to the consumer is high. Hence, it is a luxury currently in India, and still must grow into a way of life. Once we reach an ‘organic’ mindset, the prices will definitely fall.”
“Organic food is in limited supply because the land allocated for organic farming is limited. For food to be genuinely organic, the land should be left fallow for some number of years to rid it of chemicals and other agents that are introduced into the process of growing produce. As more people opt to eat organic food, demand will grow; supply will then increase and that’s when there will be economies of scale. In the foreseeable future, organic products will not be expensive due to a shift in demand. Good food which is healthy for the body isn’t a luxury; good health is! That’s the philosophy we follow at Organic Haus,” explains Dilip Doshi, founder of Organic Haus.
The Joys of Organic
The benefits of going organic are many fold. First, organic farmers are more ecologically friendly as they don’t pollute their soil with chemicals and pesticides. Also, the food is healthier because it isn’t polluted with chemicals. The effect of this kind of agriculture on the environment is also significantly less because it uses fewer resources than conventional farming. The ultimate aim for a health conscious person is to make intelligent choices when it comes to food and care about what goes into your stomach. If you buy quality ingredients instead of eating junk food, you are automatically healthier and happier. Ultimately eating organically is promoting a lifestyle change as much as it is providing good, clean produce.
Although nascent, the organic food industry is growing steadily. “The organic food industry—speaking specifically about packaged products—is only growing as Indians become increasingly health conscious and picky about what they eat and buy. They’re also asking about certifications, health benefits, and other aspects of organic food. Figures indicate that the Indian market is going to worth 7,000 crore by 2014 from 675 crore in 2010,” says Dilip. That indicates how people are choosing organic products, be it fresh or packaged over other options. “Although there’s a lot of room for understanding what actually comprises organic food and dispelling various myths that people harbour, we believe that the trend is likely to be positive,” he adds.
Organic is not a new discovery. It is the natural way that has been forgotten and is now making a steady comeback. One that is more than welcome, considering the unhealthy habits, which have been cultivated over the years. Luxury or not, health is now the main concern the world over, and the growth of the organic industry is doing just that.
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