Gurgaon has everything organic on its plate

Jyoti Narang Watchmaker, TNN Feb 27, 2013, 12.00AM IST

With high incomes and a higher awareness, Gurgaon-waasis are finicky about what makes it on to their dining table; and increasingly, it’s only organic groceries.

Everyone knows about the presence of adulterants or chemicals in food today, but it looks like Gurgaon has gotten up to do something about it. And it’s not just the neighbourhood grocery store or the supermarket chains that are increasing the length of their organic food shelves. The well-heeled set having the income to spend on and the knowledge to demand organic produce has spawned (or vice versa) a whole set of ‘organic entrepreneurs’, who are also giving momentum to the city’s organic movement.

Organic city

Gurgaon residents Vandana Sudhakar Dutt and Suruchi Ailawadi, who left their cushy corporate jobs and started – an organic food and health resource – say the aim was to share their knowledge with young mothers. Explains Vandana, “We wanted to gain insight into health and nutrition for our families. Once we started researching about organic lifestyles and healthy habits, we felt the need to share this with other young mothers, especially since most moms around us did not have elders staying with them. That’s how the website was started. Our Facebook community too, is very active, and we get lots of queries about health or product issues.”

Her partner Suruchi feels that as compared to Delhi, in Gurgaon, organic living is not just a passing fad; people here are serious about buying and using organic products, and don’t mind spending the extra buck. Also, Gurgaon has greater exposure to and availability of organic foodstuff, lifestyle products and even clothing. “Gurgaon people definitely know more about organic food, and the good thing is, they believe more in it too. A major chunk of families here are nuclear families with young children. They have a high disposable income and are well-educated, and so, more conscious about what to buy for their kitchen. Lots of organic stores have opened up and more general stores keep organic products on their shelves now, so people keep seeing them and want to know more about them too,” she says.

For the aware and the affluent
Manpreet Bajaj, who owns the Live Organic stores, says she has taken the organic movement door-to-door as her venture supplies fresh vegetables, groceries and milk – all organic – to several condominiums in Gurgaon. “Unfortunately, our food chain is adulterated with chemicals and pesticides. People are aware but didn’t have a choice. The idea is to create a win-win situation for all participants (farmers, consumers and the environment) in the organic food supply chain. Organic food is more expensive mainly because of organic certification costs and lesser availability. We are targeting people who are health conscious and can afford to bear the extra cost. Gurgaon has such a section of people. The awareness of organic living is spreading at a rapid pace in Gurgaon.” Manpreet has also organised many organic farmers’ markets in the city.

Health coach and nutritionist Nandini Gulati gives out advice about organic food to her students. “Organic food is a part of our programme. We also support organic farmers, and even have sponsors for our organic potlucks. We make our students aware about organic living and give them a list of suppliers,” says Nandini.

Also in the office dabba
For the busy office-worker who can’t spend much thought on healthy eating options, Ishit Pilani and his partner started Organic Express – a catering company – which offers ready-to-eat food prepared from organic ingredients. Ishit says, “We were working in the corporate world for many years and the food options we had were not good at all. The idea was to provide quality food from organic ingredients. However, since people were not ready to pay more, we had to initially struggle to explain our concept. And our prices are comparable to any other coffee shop’s. We also do home catering and our products are available in organic stores across Gurgaon.”

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