Difference Between Organic & Natural Products

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Organic is a growing sector and a lot of consumers are slowing converting their kitchen to organic. Most of the stores in India store both organic and natural products and sometimes due to insufficient information on the label, the consumer is often confused.

The term “organic” and “natural”  are widely used and a lot of  consumers are not sure what it means. Let me explain to you the difference between the two.

‘Natural’ means that the product has undergone minimal processing and does not contain any preservatives or additives, but the term is not protected in any way and there is no certification. However, “all natural” term is loosely used and doesn’t have any legal definition. Natural products can also be genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Organic products are those made entirely from natural substances, which in turn have been grown eschewing the use of artificial chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. According to WHO, organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conversation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. Simply put, organic produce is grown without the use of any pesticide, synthetic fertilizer, genetically modified organisms (GMO) or sewage sludge. Animal products like meat, poultry, eggs and diary products don’t take any antibiotics or growth hormones. Animal products like meat, poultry, eggs are also termed as free-range, where the animals have outside access and is not couped up in a cell.

In India, the term “organic” is not legally protected for use in retail, and organic produce can also be sold without certification. FSSAI is currently in the process of notification of organic rules for the domestic market.

The retail chain Fabindia developed a three-tier labeling system that distinguishes between so-called natural products, products from farms in conversion to organic and fully certified organic products. ICCOA, also followed similar labeling system for vegetables sourced from Karnataka. Navdanya, the NGO gives the ‘navdanya gurantee’ for organically grown products, the credibility of which is based on the reputation of the NGO rather than on third party certification.

Organic labeling can be further categorized into 3 categories:

100% organic: made with 100% organic ingredients

Organic: made with 95% organic ingredients

Made with organic ingredients: made with organic ingredients without any certification

Since organic sector is an unorganized one in India, a lot of times you will see unbranded or non-labelled packets at stores. This may be due to several reasons, repackaging by the store (who doesn’t follow any labeling norms due to small supply), small production/supply, seasonal product, applied for certification and is in transition, cannot afford certification etc.

In Bangalore, it is common to see a lot of organic stores organizing twice a week sale of organic fruits and vegetables. These are mostly not certified and are sourced from farms on the outskirts. Organic in India, is mostly promoted on the basis of trust and the intent of the producer/seller. Since, certification cost is too high most of the small producers prefer to sell their goods through small retail outlets.

 

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How do I convert my kitchen to organic?

I like my chicken free-range..

Reference: Organic food marketing in urban centres of India

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What is a low-GI diet?

Diabetics has been on a  rise and it is essential that we start looking at what we eat in a more organized manner. Today’s lifestyle demands us to focus on our health and take pre-cautionary measures before its too late. I had spoken about GI with regards to natural sugars before and now I will be talking about it more in detail . GI is a term most often used by nutritionist but in today’s date and it has become important for a layman like us to understand the importance of it. Following a low GI diet for a healthy living will help you  keep your glucose level in check.

Glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels. The GI ranking is from 1-100. 

Apart from regular exercise, food plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. Today’s post is about low GI foods that are beyond natural sugars. Everything that we eat contains some amount of sugar in them.

Why do I need a low-GI diet?

A low GI diet ensures that you are a more active person. The lifestyle that we have right now as compared to our ancestors is not the same. Our grandparents may seem active even at the age of 80 but there is no guarantee that the same genes will carry on to us. The reason is very simple – lifestyle and introduction of packaged products to make these products last long has become a part of our daily diet. The carbohydrates that our ancestors ate were to basic beans and rice which made it easier from farm to plate due to the lack of refrigeration or processes packaged products. As a result, most of the food that we eat like pizza, burgers, cakes contains the sorts of carbohydrates that break down quickly and release their sugars rapidly into the bloodstream. However, consuming low GI foods will help us keep fit and active.

Risk of consuming high-GI foods

  •  Weight gain – high GI foods will make you hungry and more likely that you will want to eat again. It also causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise and fall, which in turn results in craving for sugary and fatty foods. In both cases insulin’s main role is to promote fat storage, which means that the more insulin you have in your body,  you are storing excess calories in your body.
  • Food cravings and lethargy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Diabetics
  • Heart disease
foxtail salad

Foxtail millet salad loaded with veggies works best for a busy afternoon meal at work.

 

A low GI diet can help

  • Obtain a high fibre diet by consuming rolled oats, leafy vegetables, fruits.
  • It is naturally more filling and makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Consuming nut butters like peanut butter or cashew butter keeps you full for long.
  • Vegetables and fruits are  rich source of  nutrients and can help fight diseases.
  • Higher in essential vitamins,minerals and antioxidants will help your immune system stay strong and healthy.

How to follow a simple low GI diet?

A low GI diet is not that difficult to follow. In India, it is much easier to achieve this as we cook our own food (most of the time).

  • Eat different types of fruits and vegetables about 6-7 servings per day as per your liking. Although, some fruits and vegetables may contain high GI, in relaity when eaten in normal quantities they contain small amount of carbohydrate that they have little or no measurable effect on blood sugar levels.
  • Eating whole grain foods and cereals with low GI like whole wheat or ragi breads or cookies
  • Unpolished rice pulses or lentils
  • Nuts and seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids. If you think that nut butters are fatty, think again.
  • Eating  fish or seafood 2-3 times a week is a good source of omega 3.
  • Eating lean meat or chicken, minus the fat and following healthy cooking styles like grilling or barbecuing is best way to enjoy meat and control your GI.
  • Snack on low GI foods like fruits, ragi/millet chips or crackers, coconut sugar biscuits or low fat yogurt.
  • Replace sugary, packaged drinks with fresh fruit juices or tender coconut water
spirulina pasta 2

Pasta has a low GI if made from wheat and also depends on the shape, thicker the pasta, lower the GI

Following simple steps and taking tab of what you eat can help you a long way. GI-diet is not a fad but a scientifically proven theory. Taking smaller steps and planning your meal by swamping basmati rice with millets or white bread with whole wheat bread will help. Pasta also has a low GI if made from wheat and also depends on the shape, thicker the pasta, lower the GI. Al-dente is the best way to eat pasta and maintains its low GI. The longer you cook the higher the GI it has.

 

My first bread

Opting for whole wheat bread is a better choice. Baking your own bread is an even better option.

GI and GL for Common Foods
Food GI Serving Size Net Carbs GL
Peanuts 14  4 oz (113g) 15 2
Bean sprouts 25  1 cup (104g) 4 1
Grapefruit 25  1/2 large (166g) 11 3
Pizza 30  2 slices (260g) 42 13
Lowfat yogurt 33  1 cup (245g) 47 16
Apples 38  1 medium (138g) 16 6
Spaghetti 42  1 cup (140g) 38 16
Carrots 47  1 large (72g) 5 2
Oranges 48  1 medium (131g) 12 6
Bananas 52  1 large (136g) 27 14
Potato chips 54  4 oz (114g) 55 30
Snickers Bar 55  1 bar (113g) 64 35
Brown rice 55  1 cup (195g) 42 23
Honey 55  1 tbsp (21g) 17 9
Oatmeal 58  1 cup (234g) 21 12
Ice cream 61  1 cup (72g) 16 10
Macaroni and cheese 64  1 serving (166g) 47 30
Raisins 64  1 small box (43g) 32 20
White rice 64  1 cup (186g) 52 33
Sugar (sucrose) 68  1 tbsp (12g) 12 8
White bread 70  1 slice (30g) 14 10
Watermelon 72  1 cup (154g) 11 8
Popcorn 72  2 cups (16g) 10 7
Baked potato 85  1 medium (173g) 33 28
Glucose 100  (50g) 50 50

The table  shows values of the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) for a few common foods. GI’s of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL’s of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index#ixzz30XN8MWEo

GI ratings for some of the popular foods.

i2cook.com sells some of the low GI products like coconut sugar, rolled oats, millets etc.

 

grilled chicken 3

Grilling lean meats like chicken is a more healthier option.

Disclaimer: the above research has been done some through personal experimentation and online research. If you are diabetic, I suggest you consult your doctor for low GI diet.

Resources

http://www.lowgidiet.net/


Milestones for 2012. The journey continues…..

Half way through the month of January and I wanted to share some of my  experiences;  some  professional and some personal. This post is dedicated to what I’ve achieved and what I would have liked to achieve last year.

2012 has been a year of learning for me. I was focusing on honing my skills and getting down to basics. Some professional:

  • We introduced “pink mustard” as a new branding for our mustard and was appreciated by the consumer.
  • Peanut butter on the other hand is considered one of the best peanut butter available as of today.
  • Granola bars were the highest selling product without any marketing  push.
  • i2cook organic store got really good response and we got in products that were not easily available in the market.
  • Our products are now, not only available in Mumbai but also Bangalore and Mysore.
  • i2cook gifting.
Ethiopian

Ethiopian Spread – Injera (made with nachini/ragi flour) served with Doro Wat (chicken stew), Mesir wat (red lentil stew), Ethiopian style spiced butter flavoured greens, Tomato salad & Ethiopian cheese. The spread is served with Niter Kibbeh (spiced clarified butter)

Some personal:

  • I tried different cuisines from Ethiopian to Indonesian and attempted to get as close to the original taste for Coral. The toughest cuisine was Ethiopian and injera (Ethiopian flatbread, similar to dosa and fluffy like appam) being the most nerve jangling dish for me. I was very nervous about the batter for injera, which is fermented for 4-5 days and if things went wrong the entire cuisine would have fallen apart. Injera is made with teff flour and I substituted with pearl millet/ragi flour. The response was excellent and was one of the most well-appreciated and colourful of dishes.
  • I started baking and the first thing that I baked was a whole wheat bread.  Now I can’t stop baking 😉
  • Exposure to new ingredients like nutritional yeast flakes, blackstrap molasses, chia seeds, cocoa nibs, millets, coconut sugar etc.
  • 90% of the ingredients  in my kitchen for everyday cooking is organic 😀
  • Conducted two i2cook cooking classes successfully.
  • Gaining experience in retail – coming from an architectural background is not easy!
pic 012

Sachin, a special child and very hard working. He loves to sing and dance.

2012 has also been a year of hiring people and working together. The highlight for me was to meet Dilshad of Mann – centre for individuals with special needs, who gave me an opportunity to be a part of their family. I’ve never been with or around a special child and even though I had decided that I will try this new experience, I was a bit nervous. Scared that I may be faced with hyper activity and may not be able to control the situation. I was wrong!

Each child is assigned to you taking the work and place into consideration. I’ve hired two kids and I’m training them in packaging, labels, hygiene etc. They have shown really good results and it’s really a pleasure working with them. They really know how to put a smile on my face even after a long and tiring day at work.

Looking forward to 2013 –  professional and personal:

  • Introducing new product range for i2cook. We’re aiming at four new products this year.
  • Launch of i2cook.com.
  • Hiring more special children and training them to have a better life.
  • Recipe videos.
  • Collaborating with other brand(s) and producing products – some products are so unique that no Indian brand is doing it.
  • More baking! 😀
  • Trying different cuisines for Coral – networking dinner which my husband and I execute.

I hope you enjoyed reading my first blog post of 2013. I look forward to reading your milestones for 2012/13 in the comment box. Happy cooking!


Coral – a networking dinner with strangers & a Spanish spread

Coral, a networking dinner executed by my husband and I to give people an experience of meeting strangers over food and conversations. A lot of you have asked me or wondered how it all started….

I love to cook and my husband  visualized the concept. We also found a lovely bungalow in the middle of the city owned by Prahlad kakkar. The three combination blended with each other so well that it brought in curiosity.

Our last coral was “Spanish” and  the last one for this year. We will be closed for November and December and will be back with new ideas or maybe a new venue in 2013. Coral has a new website now and allows memberships at a nominal fee. Coral members get better benefits and discounts for future dinners.

We serve a four course meal from different parts of the world and try to keep the cuisine as authentic as possible depending on the  availability of the  ingredients. There are no restrictions on the portions, you can always ask for a second helping. Kima of Mizochican has described his Spanish experience.

Welcome drink: Sangria, made from Indian red wine and Indian red and golden apples.

Appetizer 1: whole wheat organic bread served with Spanish romesco sauce. A delicious sauce made from almonds and red peppers.

Apertizer 2: Tortilla De Patatas, Spanish style omelet with onions & potatoes

Apertizer 3: Spanish style parsley prawns sautéed in olive oil, garlic and parsley with a squeeze of lime

Main course: seafood paella

Dessert: Bizcocho, Spanish style sponge cake. It is traditionally made from olive oil and lemon zest.

We sometimes end up with a night cap either green/mint tea or some coffee. Coral sessions have no time restrictions and our guests can leave when they please, even if its 2am in the morning 🙂

Some points that I would like to bring to your notice:

When an event is created, it is not by invitation only. Anybody can apply or wish to come.

It is not a dating or singles club.

Couples, singles or even your friends are allowed to come. The more the merrier!

Our aim is to give you a good experience 🙂

My previous post on Food at Coral – dinner with strangers


Being an entrepreneur (part 2)

I’m angry today. Angry because people sometimes  don’t act professional. Please note that I’m not blaming anyone here. It is something that I’m getting used to…..

Coming from a small enterprise and I don’t think I haven’t even come close to what I would want to achieve. My journey seems to have become more and more difficult and I have found that “people” are the most difficult hurdle of any enterprise.

Your delivery boy decides to take a break suddenly and your client or vendor realizes that you need to be a bit more squeezed cause you are after all a “small enterprise”. Well, Infosys started from a garage and most of the pickle brands have started from a small kitchen. Why are we not trained to believe that even a small enterprise can think BIG. Being an entrepreneur may sound fancy but as an entrepreneur we are expected to think out of the box perennially. How do we deal with the daily chaotic mess that ends up taking your entire day. How do we deal with something as simple as a phone call ruining your mood because the other person decided not to think and talk without reason.

We fret, fume and frustrate over it but beyond that are we expected to keep thinking productive while others dont believe in you? I don’t think so…

Frustration and anger can grow on you and can also make you stop thinking. I felt it a few days back and sometimes feel it even now. Am I doing the right thing; we all go through this question a million times in our head, don’t we?!

I don’t want to impart any negative feelings. I’m pouring out and this is the best way I can :). I think the best way to deal with “people” is to stay calm, eat and then speak. Stay calm and listen, take a bite into that dark chocolate you’ve been hiding and speak up, clear any misunderstanding or confusion till it clears. At best laugh it off and make peace. You don’t want to treat or rather hurt the other person. After all we all need each other to build a community of our own.

My previous thoughts – Being an entrepreneur(part 1)


Food at Coral – dinner with strangers

 Roasted herbed potatoes & chickpea salad

Coral is based on the concept of a Salon ( “sal-lawn”). A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation.

Coral is set in a bungalow sponsored by Prahlad Kakkar creating an ambiance; by cutting off from traffic and noise of busy Mumbai with flowing conversations over good food and drink. Coral dinners are facilitated by my husband, Pawan and me. I love to cook and Pawan came up with the idea of bringing in food and conversations together and thus Coral was born.

Muhallebi  rice flour based dessert

It’s been a year since we started Coral and I’ve enjoyed setting up various menus. The idea is to focus on different cuisine, serving a 4 course meal. We want to provide a home cooked meal, native to a region that we may have never visited but possesses a culture that is brought out through its cuisine. It can be a dish from Pandi curry  from Coorg or Muhallebi  from Turkey.

Pandi curry with kadambuttu (rice balls)

Coming up with the menu can be a tough task and especially when I have not tasted the cuisine recently. I try to include dishes that you don’t get easily in Mumbai and some that are inspired. Sometimes non availability of ingredients, requires  substitution to bring it as close to it’s authentic taste. Recently we had Indonesian as the theme and it was challenging. I’ve never tasted an authentic Indonesian meal and the closest would have been a nasi goreng. Indonesian is  close to Malay food. Flavours are very simple – lemon grass, galangal/ginger, coconut, plam or coconut sugar. Blogs have always been my major source of information and inspirations. I’ve always been asked about the menu and how did I manage to get the recipes – the credit goes mostly to blogs. Getting the right information and creating a satisfying palate to go with our guests is a task that I’m trying to perfect.

Chilled avocado milkshake shots (made with palm sugar & coconut cream), Indonesian Corn Fritters (Perkedel Jagung), Indonesian fried chicken with crunchy flakes served with sambal terasi (red chili paste) &Yellow rice combo  – Coconut milk & lemon grass flavoured rice served with chicken rendang & shredded fried egg

Rujak Serut – chilled mixed fruit salad (jackfruit, mango & Malay apple) served with Indonesian dressing – palm sugar, tamarind paste, lime and coconut

Here is the FB page in case  you’re interested in knowing about Coral dinners. Post by various guests who experienced Coral – Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, Eats, Feeds & Digs & Mizohican.


Being an entrepreneur (part 1)

I have so many things running in my head that it’s not funny anymore. It has driven me out of my comfy bed, late in the night to come out and share with you about what I’m feeling.

It’s been a year (well almost) stepping into the shoes of ‘being an entrepreneur’. It took me a year to come out and write about my feelings not because it  didn’t matter but because I thought that I wasn’t ‘ready’.

A year (or even few months) back I didn’t even know whether I could call myself an ‘entrepreneur’. I always thought that I’m not ready for it..maybe not yet. But now I feel different.  Different because I want to blog more and share my experiences with you and not bury my emotions of  good and bad times that I have had.

Being from an architectural background and not practising it for sometime was a ‘ Big’ deal for  me at one point. My family and friends thought that I was a lost soul and that I wasted five years of studies for what – Cooking?!

When I started off my gig at the Farmer’s Market selling bottled products and making simple salads for people to relish. I realised that I was enjoying myself more than what I have done anything else in my life. The experimentation with products and cuisines is what got me started to start a small brand of my own – i2cook.

After the experimentation and getting some audience to taste what I cook – the next big question  was  – what next?

I chose a line with no experience what so ever and no one in the family doing the same thing. I just dived into the pool of ‘Retail’ – like they say there is always some room for more :).

Dealers, suppliers, payments, manufacturing, prospecting, pitching is all that life has been since I started. Sounds boring but trust me I never felt bored. I did have short bursts of frustration, when people would keep me hanging for months to just give an answer – not now, maybe later…. Arghhh.

But there have been some good times – when your family and friends realise that this is the only thing you want to do and start encouraging you. I have met some amazing people who saw something in me even before I was confident of myself, as a cook. I thank them from the bottom of my heart because people like them have kept me going.

Entrepreneurship is not an easy ride and it took me almost a year to call one myself. Everyone has their up’s and downs, mood swings or one of those pessimistic moments, but at the bottom of it all ‘Passion’ can only make you work and deal with anything that comes your way.

Goodnight and look forward to share more experiences with you.