Farm fresh at your doorstep

Organic products being delivered to a home at Anna Nagar Photo: M. Vedhan.   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

It’s not easy going completely organic. The grocery store down the road is more accessible than the organic store some distance away. It’s easier to pick up vegetables from the department store on the way back home from work than wait for vegetables to arrive at the weekly organic market in the neighbourhood. But, it is all changing — you can now get exotic greens such as mudakathan or kizhanelli delivered to your doorstep.

Door 2 Door Organics, a dial-in delivery initiative, provides a range of organic vegetables and fruits. Jitendra Prasad, the founder, has introduced the concept of a ‘weekly farm box’. Customers can choose from the small, medium, and large farm boxes, with vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, turnips, mushrooms and more.

“The only way to gain a good customer base for organic food is by promising people a regular supply at a reasonable price,” says Prasad. “The cost of production of organic food is high and there are instances where farmers are forced to mix organic vegetables with the regular varieties and sell it at rock-bottom prices,” he adds.

Prasad has a team of 11, which harvests, sorts, packs and delivers vegetables from his organic farms at Red Hills and Tiruvallur. He has a different list of vegetables for each week. “We also provide a recipe that can be tried out using one of the vegetables in our farmbox,” he explains.

The Nalla Keerai team has been delivering organic greens to Chennai households for the past few years. They plan to take their initiative a notch higher by providing yearly, six-month and three-month subscription-based services. This is a model that the team has been striving for, ever since they started out in 2011. It’s simple — ask customers to commit to buying, and pass on the commitment to farmers.

For a yearly subscription of Rs. 4,460, customers will get a basket of five greens home-delivered every week. This will include two bundles of traditional greens such as palak, murungai, manathakkali and Ceylon pasalai; one bundle of dressing greens such as lemon grass, basil and ramba; and one bundle each of ‘ancient’ and ‘exotic’ greens.

Says R. Jaganathan, who started Nalla Keerai, “Once we create a distribution system, we can gradually begin to send traditional varieties of rice, oil, jaggery and fruits in small quantities to those who are part of it.” He says that Nalla Keerai follows Gandhian economist J.C. Kumarappa’s theory, which breaks down what and how much a farmer should grow, depending on requirement.

“I’m trying to put this system in place. This is why we’ve started our subscription model,” he adds.

Spot the difference

Organic vegetables do not look as colourful as regular varieties. They cook faster and taste better.

Organic chillies are extremely spicy while ginger has a strong, rich flavour.

Nalla Keerai promises an interesting array of greens. “ Karisilankanni is said to prevent cancer. And manjal karisilankanni, is good for the liver,” says Jaganathan. His team is working on a software to perfect their system and plans are on to launch a Nalla Keerai app.

Several smaller organic food stores in the city have also introduced door delivery. M. Nagaraj, who’s part of Organic Farmer’s Market (OFM), has an outlet in Arumbakkam.

He delivers fruits, vegetables and groceries to households in the neighbourhood. “This makes it easier for people to switch over to organic,” he says. C. Dhamodharan, yet another OFM member, delivers products to houses around Medavakkam.

Prasad and Jeganathan say that more people are signing up for their services. “They feel their refrigerator smells different — a raw, earthy fragrance,” adds Prasad.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 9:20:48 PM |

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