Certified Organic is the stamp of approval that you are indeed availing of pure organic products. Kingshuk Basu, CEO, Conscious Food goes in-depth about his organic brand, a socially responsible business committed to a green and healthy lifestyle
The term organic implies the use of irradiation, non-chemical and non-synthetic additives in the production of foods. For the longest time, agriculture was ‘unadulterated’ until about the early 20th century when changes were introduced and the term ‘chemical farming’ was coined by Lord Northbourne in his book Look to the Land (1940). The origin of ‘organic’ hence can be traced back to Northbourne’s usage of the term ‘the farm as an organism’ to describe the holistic approach to farming.
To be organic involves the avoidance of GMO, chemical fertilisers, pesticides and use of farmland that has been free from prohibited chemical inputs for a number of years (minimum three, the more the better). For first-time certification, this period is known as being in transition. Transitional crops are hence, not considered fully organic. When understanding organic certification, it is essentially aimed at regulating and facilitating the sale of organic products to consumers.
Labelling requirements are based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product. Products labelled as ‘100% organic’ must contain only organically produced ingredients and processing ingredients, excluding water and salt. Processed products containing less than 70% organic ingredients cannot use the term ‘organic’ anywhere on the principal display panel.
What then would it take for an organisation like Conscious Food – the organically sound company that began its journey in 1990 – to receive an organic cetifcation in India? To be Certified Organic?
The National Program for Organic Production (NPOP), National Organic Program (NOP) and the European Union have laid down the standards for organic certification and Conscious Foos is Certified Organic by Ecocert – the French-based certification body for sustainable development. Note that one can either choose to use the term Certified Organic on their packaging or just use ‘organic’.
Conscious Food prides itself on its quality, all natural products and its position as an intermediary between small-scale organic farmers and consumers. Keeping it pure and simple.
CEO Kingshuk Basu introduces Conscious Food from its inception to its flourish today….
The journey of Conscious Food started in 1990 when Kavita Mukhi, an eco-nutritionist based in Bombay decided to take her passion for organic and natural food to a wider audience. In the next 25 years, from a small shop in Malabar Hill to its current workshop in Lower Parel, Conscious Food has grown from a cottage industry model to an organised business. Today Conscious Food is certified by Ecocert – the French-based certification body for sustainable development.
In 2004, KMS (Titoo) Ahluwalia acquired the company, after he had taken an early retirement from his corporate career of leading three market research organisations in India – Marg, Org-Marg and AC Nielsen, India. Titoo, who was a dedicated customer of Conscious Food decided to adopt the business motivated by his personal commitment to a green and healthy lifestyle and the potential of building a successful and socially responsible business.
In 1990 several years ahead of consumer trends, Conscious Food founded itself on three principles, namely health and wellness of its customers, to empower and employ underprivileged women and help small organic farmers access markets with better economic returns. Till date through many changes the company remains true to its founding principles.
On any weekday if you visit its Lower Parel workshop, you will find women from underprivileged sections of the society happily engaged in cleaning, sorting, grinding, mixing and packaging of organic and natural food products. The company also has a HACCP certified kitchen where snack items like khakras and chikkis are made with organic ingredients. The staff takes pride in making each and every item to perfect taste and quality in an artisan way. The same spirit reflects in its labels which are screen printed on handmade paper and pasted by hand on the package.
The company certified by Ecocert procures certified organic grains and produce from its network of small farmers and intermediaries. Traditional methods of processing are used and attention is given to every detail to preserve the taste and ingredients of the food. All spices are iron- pounded, all flour is stone – chakki – ground and all oils are cold pressed. Liquid items like coconut oil, apple cider vinegar with mother – strands of friendly bacteria – sesame oil, honey, apricot oil, etc, are packed in freshly cleaned glass bottles.
Over the years Conscious Food has established itself as a strong brand on basis of its excellent product quality and wide assortment. It has differentiated items like sprouted wheat dalia, sprouted ragi flour, seven-grain mixed atta, sprouted suji, digestive mix, spirulina powder, Gir cow ghee, herbs, energising tea and many more such products. Loyal customers from Bombay and adjoining areas have shopped Conscious Food products for years, and the well-loved brand spread through word of mouth marketing.
Today Conscious Food has expanded in national markets through chains like Godrej Nature’s Basket, Foodhall, Fab India, Westside, Sahakari Bhandar, HyperCity and Spencer’s. Its products are also available online at Amazon, Big Basket, Organic Shop, Grofers, etc, and directly from its website http://www.consciousfood.com. Many speciality food stores dealing in organic, natural, gourmet, ethnic and imported food products in metros and major cities across the country carry Conscious Food products. The company services all its customers from its workshop in Lower Parel and also reaches customers in UK and USA through its partner in UK.
Today in India and worldwide more and more customers are gaining awareness and adopting organic and natural food. Chemical-free food is not only good for health, but organic agriculture with no chemical fertiliser and pesticide also supports soil and water preservation. The consumer trends are strong and vibrant in this space and Conscious Food is preparing for the next stage of its journey. To expand into a wider space of health and wellness living with new and adjacent product lines, the company is ready for innovative products, new markets, more consumers and most importantly to serve the organic cause and its original three core principles – interdependency, diversity and recycling.
Conscious Food Pvt. Ltd.
317 / 318, Vasan Udyog Bhavan,
Off Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel,
Mumbai, 400013. Ph: 022 2493 4552
This feature was published in UpperCrust Magazine dated Jul-Sep 2016, and used here with prior permission from the publisher.