Spend your money on rice and vegetables at your wish, but do you know whatever you buy from the market will have some amount of pesticide in it! Wondering How? Polished rice goes through multiple levels of refinement with chemicals resulting which it drains out nutritional value from the grains and on the other hand, lead and arsenic are often found in high quantities in vegetables and other foods, which harm the body in every possible way.
Due to this, organic food considered healthier than conventionally grown counterparts — are in high demand in Vizag. With the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent fallout on human health, people in all age groups started taking organic food for boosting immunity power to remain healthy. With this in mind, organic stores mushrooming in the city with a wide range of products with unique selling propositions.
Health experts opine that organic food became the food of choice in every household because of its natural and organic ingredients that are cultivated as per the standards of organic farming. Although the usage of organic products started much earlier, its inherent advantages largely known to the consumers amid the Covid 19 pandemic as they have seen the connection between diet, health, and the environment.
Vara Lakshmi, resident of Seethammadhara said initially organic fruits and vegetables were not easily available and even if they were marketed as organic, one wasn’t sure about the authenticity. Though it is expensive than the regular produce, I notice the difference when I started consuming raw veggies in salads and juices. But for Janardhan who works for the BPO sector, the cost can be a deterrent factor because of big family consists of parents and three siblings. Nevertheless, for him it is health benefits supersede the cost. He also said having switched to organic vegetables and fruits, the difference in the flavor and taste is very apparent now.
Demand for Organic food & Market size
Demand for organic products isn’t expected to slow down even after the covid-19 subsides. Our regular customers pick millets due to good source of nutrient content said Suresh Reddy, owner of Araku Natual Millet in BS Layout. Echoing similar views, Branch owner of Sumaja Ecowellness organic Shoppe in Seethammadhar, Jogendra Chaddalvada said demand for hand pounded organic brown and semi-brown rice in Sonamasuri variety is picking up of late. Other products like jaggery powder, wheat flour, and rock slat which we import from certified organic producers across ten states are also selling like hotcakes.
Kolla Venkata Suresh Kumar, a farmer and owner of Swaraj Natural store at Pedda Waltair said that he does organic farming in Garividi in Vizianagaram, produces about 10 tonnes of vegetables and supplies to other gourmet stores and supermarkets also. “In our store vegetables including leafy ones are much in demand. Although the popularity of organic food is gaining ground, it does have a fair share of challenges as well. For some, it is a gap between demand and supply and sometimes the quality is not that great. Due scarcity of organic farming in Vizag, we are unable to supply according to the demand nowadays” he added.
On the price factor, Mr. Kumar emphatically said that it is quite natural, organic products are costlier because of their inherent nutritious content. It is very hard on our part to convince the consumers that the higher prices are justified. They should know that the increased cost for organic comes because it has to be grown, harvested, processed, and transported separately from traditional foods.
So what about the organic market size in Vizag? Indeed, there is no exact data available but according to shop owners, at least 30 to 50 tonnes of organic vegetables sold in a month on average. Most of the farm produce source from farmers in the Seethampeta Mandal of Srikakulam region, Rambhadrapuram in Parvathipuram and Korada village in Padmanabham Mandal of Visakhapatnam.
But nonetheless, this sudden surge in organic produce begs the question, how do you know it is really organic? For food products and processed foods, there will be organic certification or label on the packaging, but for vegetables and fruits, there really is no way to check. For authenticity, one needs to meet the farmer who produces organic food on the certified land another shop-owner emphatically said.