Basic Instinct

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Organic or chemical-free cultivation is not new to India, a country with an ancient farming heritage. Sharmi Adhikary lists five young food brands that are re-tracing the desi route

Mumbai Sequel Bistro & Juice Bar

Vanika Choudhary of Sequel Bistro & Juice Bar in posh Bandra, Mumbai, took a chance when she set up her sunny café. Despite having no background in the food and hospitality industry, Sequel is one of the most popular food haunts in Bandra and is often frequented by celebrities with a yen for organic, sugar-free or gluten-free food.

USP: Sources high-quality ingredients from their places of origin – for instance, cacao and acai berry powder from Peru, wild rice from the Himalayas and stone-ground chocolate from Mexico. Some ingredients are sourced from local farms.

Bestsellers: Home-made buckwheat, wholegrain oat flour, gluten-free bread, cold-pressed juices and vegan smoothies.

Kolkata Beej

Through its carefully selected spices, which have Ayurvedic properties, Beej strives to enter your kitchen and your heart, and make organic living easy and affordable. Launched by Mrinalika Bhanjdeo, a certified yoga instructor and a student of Ayurveda, Beej is an initiative to influence a conscious organic way of life. Beej offers organically grown and certified condiments to rejuvenate the body, mind and soul.

USP: Items are sourced mainly from tribal farmers in Odisha, as well as some in Rajasthan, and the products have an 18-24-month shelf life. Currently, Beej is selling in Kolkata, Indore and Jaipur.

Bestsellers: Honey, ragi flour, triphala powder, amla powder, turmeric powder and ginger powder.

New Delhi Devgan House

eating experience at Devang House in Hotel Ashok, New Delhi. Owned by Pranav Chaudhry, the business model is to create a network of cafés where people can experience organic dining in consciously and creatively built spaces. Devang serves up unique organic fusion cuisine that takes inspiration from global flavours. For instance, they take khichdi or pongal, and add a twist to it with beetroot and pesto. The team sources fresh fruits and vegetables from organic farms in the NCR and dry produce such as grains, rice and spices from organic sources across the country.

USP: It works directly with farmers, cutting out middlemen and traders; focusses on creating a community movement around conscious, organic living and bettering farmers’ lives.

Bestsellers: Flaxseed bread, fresh basil pesto, organic masala chai, vegan ice-cream and organic mango, spinach and chia green smoothie.

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New Delhi CAARA

The idea that profits should be ploughed back into the grass roots of society incubated Ambika Seth’s first project, FarmLove. She started off by working with local farmers in Haryana and introduced chemical-free farming to them, eliminating the middleman and supporting them in fair trade prices and market linkages.

USP: FarmLove aims to educate consumers on the quality and source of their food. Caara has six verticals: catering, culinary arts school, café, chef recruitment, kitchen consultation and fine food business. The team has also started experimenting in its Delhi farms with microgreens, edible flowers and exotic vegetables. These will be available on order from this winter.
Bestsellers: Kale, basil, rosemary and oregano.

 Healthy Buddha, Bengaluru

Bengaluru Healthy Buddha

When Gautham PB and Anurag Dalmia couldn’t find quality chemical-free food for their children in the entire city, they decided they had to do something about it. So, after 12 years of corporate life in India and abroad, they quit their well-paying jobs and founded Healthy Buddha in early 2014. Since Gautham was a practising organic farmer, Healthy Buddha got its initial push in the form of produce from Gautham’s own organic farms.

USP: As an e-store, it follows the module: order, harvest, deliver. Veggies get delivered on the same day of harvest, or the next morning. They are not stocked. Any excess vegetable is donated to an old-age ashram in Whitefield, Bengaluru. Organic produce and products are carefully curated before they are sold. The produce comes from more than 200 farmers from across India. For instance, the tea is from Assam, apples from Himachal, pulses from Maharashtra and jaggery from Tamil Nadu. There is also a starter pack, where you can buy a week’s worth of organic vegetables at just Rs 385.

Bestsellers: The Rs 385 veggie basket, wholewheat flour, hibiscus juice, toor dal from Maharashtra, Rajamudi rice, idli rice from Tamil Nadu, ghee made from desi cow milk and preservativefree jams.

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