How do I convert my kitchen to organic?

Organic 1

I’m here to share my experience with organic food and how it changed my kitchen!

My kitchen still functions the same with any recipe from any cuisine that I like to cook. The only thing that has changed is that 99% of the ingredients that I use now are sans pesticide. Sounds unbelievable doesn’t it….

There is a lot of information on the internet telling you that organic food is good for you or that there is no proven fact that organic food is more healthier compared to the conventional food. My theory is very simple, if my food is grown artificially or ripened or polished with the stuff that I cannot even pronounce, I prefer to stay away. I like my bottle of peanut butter to taste like peanuts and nothing else. For me, it doesn’t matter if I have to consume my condiments within a certain period of time. I prefer it this way as it gives me more confidence that there has been nothing artificial added to it to make it last long.

I was first introduced to the term ‘organic’ when I was interning in an Architect’s office in Auroville. I used to have my lunch everyday at the solar kitchen where most of the ingredients were grown locally and were organic. As a young individual, I never realised the importance and forgot all about it. In the year 2011, I was reintroduced  to organic produce through Farmer’s Market. This is when I took notice. The first thing that hit me was the taste. The produce were not only fresh but had a sweet, refreshing taste. I started cooking with organic produce and noticed that my cooking tasted of pure ingredients and that I didn’t have to do too much to enhance it. Thus my journey to  learn about different organic ingredients started.

organic 2

My approach has been slow but consistent. Organic food is 10-20% higher priced than conventional foods. My theory here is more simple, If I’m cutting down on my one or two bill(s) of eating out, I can buy better quality ingredients for my family.  I first made a note of all the ingredients that we consume at home and narrowed it down to the most consumed first. For example, rice is the most consumed ingredient at home and I changed it to organic first. I gradually made a progress and have converted my kitchen into an organic one over a period of 12 months. Now we eat out less and still save more on groceries than before!!

I eat organic food and I’m not a vegetarian!

It is very difficult to source organic meat. I’m told that there are organic chicken available in some parts of India. I haven’t come across any and I don’t see it available in Mumbai or Bangalore (as a retail product). I do eat fee range chicken or eggs and studies have proven that they contain more nutrition than the injected ones. I have shared more information on free range in my old blog post. I prefer the locally available seasonal fish in comparison to the frozen ones.

Does organic food taste good?

I’ve been asked this question by several people. I hope the pictures convince you that organic food is not boring as it may sound 🙂

Organic 3

lettuce wraps 1

Asian style lettuce wrap with i2cook’s peanut butter. Click on the image to view recipe.

Millet & sundried banana bread

Crackly dried fruit bread with coconut oil. Click on the image to view recipe.

Do I eat out?

As a blogger, I get invited to a lot of restaurants for tasting. Organic food is a part of my daily diet and I tend to be strict about it at home. However, there are some exclusive restaurants in different parts of the country serving some locally produced and organic food like Tattva in Delhi, Carrots in Bangalore or The Pantry, Birdsong in Mumbai.

Where to buy organic food?

There are a lot of options now from where you can buy organic food. Our online store i2cook is a 100% organic store. There are also stores in different cities which stock fresh organic produce from nearby farms. Cities like Mumbai and Bangalore are holding Farmers market selling organic produce regularly. Esvasa has a good list of stores across India selling organic produce.

Read more….

Debate on organic food

Organic vs. conventional & a chart for fruits/vegetables

Why organic food might be worth all that cost….

Organic Haus in Mumbai

From what I see, organic food has only increased its influence since 2010 in Mumbai. We had only a handful of stores, selling a few products and one would have to treasure hunt even for a simple ingredient. Things are changing for the better; now most of the big super markets stock, not just one full row but dedicate a few racks for organic food. I believe this is a start to bigger sections in future; a start of being conscience of our health.

Organic farming is not a new concept our farmer’s grand fathers did it before us when pesticides and genetic modifications were unheard of. More and more people across the world are realizing the benefits that organic food offers. But why is it that we don’t see organic food selling in every other store or super market? Why is it catering only to niche audience? I agree that organic products tend to be more expensive in comparison to their the inorganic counterparts as they are not yet mass produced and also come with a label to ratify their genuineness.

One such store that I came across is “Organic Haus”, a premium store, owned by Dilip joshi, former Indian cricketer. He pursued his passion for good organic vegetarian food and opened one of India’s first all organic store in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The store retails a wide range of organic products that are certified on the basis of strict European standards. The products are sourced from Germany, Austria and Northen Europe. From Europe you say, so what about “food miles”?  Consciously I try to buy all things local but what do you do if you want to cook  western cuisine. We all belong to a generation of gourmet food and molecular  gastronomy. Each of us are always on a look out for something new to try or experiment with. Here are some views of Dilip Joshi, interviewed by Mint.
Walking into the store, transformed me into a space not from India. The wood, interiors and the products nothing seemed Indian to me. I haven’t come across any store in India selling such a large range of organic ingredients. You even get organic toothpaste here!

I believe a lot in pure taste while addition of least number of uncomplicated ingredients on my bottle assure me of safe food. The store people are friendly and give you a taste of everything that you ask for. If they don’t have tasters, they even open a fresh one for you to taste, making sure that you are satisfied with the product before buying. Most of the labels are mostly in German, but I was assured that the new consignment will be coming with “English” labels. If you’re having any trouble with the label or expiry, it is always best to check with the store keeper/Manager.

I have tasted most of the products at the store and here are some of my selections:

The whole fruit – Beutelsbacher

The delicious juices are pure, natural and provide healthy and balanced nutrients. The vegetable/fruit are freshly harvested, extracted and bottled without added sugar.

Pure refreshment – Bionade

An amazing product made with expertise. Fermentation using natural processes normally creates alcohol when sugar is part of the mix. However, this drink is brewed by turning the sugar into a natural energizer that is also present in honey. The drink is available in flavors such as elderberry, ginger-orange, herbs and lychee. My favorite pick would be herbs.

The magic of perfection – all i need

Tea cannot taste more perfect! Combined with berries and ginger, the tea unfolds its long-lasting invigorating effect. The aromatic tone of jasmine and the mild sweetness of agave juice add the finishing touch to the delicate taste of all i need. I consider it a premium energy drink and helps you ease tiredness and work long hours.

Fabulously Delicious – Rapunzel

The wide range of products includes nut butters,  spreads, sauces, soups, museli, coffee, oil, vinegar and many more. This company is considered the pioneer in processing of organic vegetarian foods with high quality.

Health Matters – Salus, Schoenenberger

A healthy composition with vitamins and essential minerals make Salus tonics a good source for adults and kids.

For those who are conscience of their body, Schoenenberger has a slimming kit which also helps in ailments. A cocktail of pure and organic medicinal plant juices.

They have a good range of pastas, pesto and pate (vegetarian). They also have breads, crackers which comes in fresh with their consignment and gets over in no time. Most baked products are made keeping in mind people with food sensitivities and allergies. The list of products can go on and on and I would stop at this point. I think its a good idea to visit the store yourself and have a look at what its got in store for you.

Organic Haus is located at kemps Corner, Mumbai.