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    Carving a niche in organic food

    KOCHI: With the Endosulfan issue still looming in the background, ‘organic food’ is now slowly growing to be the buzz word of many a health freak. The response to this growing health and environmental consciousness is diverse. While many have taken to health foods and health restaurants, others have gone a step further to grow organic foods in their kitchen gardens.If what experts say are true, then organic farming is a big hit in Kochi. A R S Vadyar of Yashoram Builders is one of the persons who has garnered considerable attention through his organic farming projects. He grows a vegetables and plants within his compound using manure from vermi-composting. Vadyar has grown a coconut tree on his terrace using organic methods.“Organic farming is a big hit. Lots of residential associations, schools and colleges have come up with projects on organic food production. People visit my house almost daily to understand the process,” says VRS Vadyar.The Yashoram Builders is now on a project to distribute organic plants 10,000 students from 100 schools and several colleges. “From each school hundred students are selected. The students will then grow the plants in their houses using organic methods,” says Vadyar.The Janasree movement, a Congress backed statewide organisation too has taken up a nationwide campaign on organic food production in all its kitchen farms in its 50,000 strong units. “We were conscious of the health problems caused by unhealthy food. Our members are very enthusiastic about promoting it”, said the Janasree Mission treasurer, Lathika Subash.But when it comes to commercial production organic farming and retail have its problems. One of the first names which comes to the minds of Kochiites when it comes to organic food restaurants is the Aruvi Prakriti Hotel. The hotel has been supplying organic food for 16 years, a feat in itself, considering that many restaurants opened on similar lines found it hard to sustain.“This is not for profit. We are doing it as a social work. Since we do not use preservatives and other chemicals, food gets spoilt easily. Moreover we have don’t use taste makers that are undesirable to health. All this becomes a problem. But in-spite of this there are a number of people who are now regular visitors here, mainly doctors. There are several others who have been recommended by their physicians to come here,” said Hotel Manager of Aruvi Prakriti Hotel, Bernard Netto.The problem is echoed by many who grow vegetables in their homes. “I have been growing vegetables organically for decades now. But it is difficult to grow enough for all our needs. So we end up buying some crops from outside”, says Advocate Russel Joy.The Jansree also can see the problem. “The loss is found when it comes to large-scale production. A number of eco-shops and other large-scale production units have shut down in the years. Many of them end up becoming very high-end and expensive. But the story is different when it comes to little kitchen gardens. We are trying to bring out the organic food campaign from the grassroots and then move upwards,” says Lathika.