Organic Food: A Privilege Or A Choice? What Can Mumbai Afford?

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Farmer's Market, Mumbai
Farmer’s Market ( Wearabout)

Mumbai’s very talked-about Farmers’ Market is back. Which means every Sunday organic produce will be on sale from 10a.m to 3p.m. at Maharasthra Nature Park. Along with the usual fun-n-fair atmosphere is an organic cafe, live music, a bunch of stalls and of course an interesting mix of people. This market has been hugely successful in getting started the discourse on organic food in Mumbai.

Let’s begin by making sure we aren’t just throwing around the term ‘organic’ without knowing exactly what it means. Organic crops are those grown without the use of synthetic chemicals and genetic modification. Pesticides and insecticides used are all natural. This ensures that the ecosystem isn’t harmed by agriculture. It also eliminates harmful toxins from entering our systems and is therefore healthier.

I’m sure every one of us reading this post has at least one tree-hugging friend whose Facebook profile is full of organic propaganda. But ask an average middle class wife about organic food; she’ll do some math and then tell you to take a hike. Can we afford the green grass on the organic side of the fence?

Why planet friendly is not pocket friendly
Growing organic produce is eco friendly, but definitely more challenging and expensive. Organic plants cannot be force ripened or completely protected from pests, which means they yield less produce. Sharad Talwalkar runs an organic farm in Satara, where he grows fruits vegetables and rears cows. He realizes his farm’s productivity will always be less, when compared to a farm that uses chemical fertilizers. Hence crops are more expensive. This cost difference is the major deterrent for consumers. “Customers talk ample about organic farming but are not prepared to pay more” he says.

Organic Vegetables

I did a small comparison to check investigate the cost factor. Let’s take a staple like Masoor Dal. It costs the same to buy it online from a regular store  or to buy it from  which sells only certified organic products. It’s the exact same price! Surprised at my results I compared sugar, and nearly fell off the chair. 1Kg of organic sugar would costs little over Rs. 100. Whereas non-organic costs about Rs.40! The difference is staggering. Most spices are about three times more expensive. So it’s no surprise that planet friendly produce remains inaccessible to most Mumbaikars. For now.

I cannot expect the lady who sweeps our compound and earns a couple of thousand rupees a month to spend double the amount on vegetables. But if the privileged do, there’s a chance the whole process will become more affordable and farming habits in general will slowly change. To be honest, the cost of going organic doesn’t really burn a whole in the middle or upper class’ pocket. Owner of organic store Navdanya, Reetha Balsavar makes a pertinent point “If you buy a months supply of all your groceries from Navdanya to feed a family of 4, the extra you would have to pay is the amount you would pay for 4 people to eat one meal in a decent restaurant.” Would you give up that one meal?

Organic Lentils

Besides, those who have switched to an organic diet swear by the benefits; a healthier digestive system, better tasting food and a greener conscience. When I asked Megha Deokule, the creator of organic food brand i2cook whether the cost of organic ever food deterred her, she had this to say “I have some organic produce sprayed with Hit or Mortein, and I’ll sell it to you for 50% cheaper. Would you buy it?”. To those who are conscious of their carbon footprint, the cost is justified. So it isn’t about whether one can afford to go organic. It’s about whether one chooses to.

If you wish to try going organic, here’s a list of stores that will give you the goods:

Satvika, Chembur
Contact: 9833701982 / 9321701982

Naturally Yours, Bandra
Contact: 022- 32230003

Navdanya, Andheri
Contact: 9920418027

GreenFields, Colaba
Contact: 022-6515 7507

Organic Garden, Breach Candy
Contact: 022-6749 5555, 9664025555

Post By Salonee Gadgil (86 Posts)

I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.

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Salonee Gadgil

Salonee Gadgil
I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.