When it comes to nutritional trends in India, the word 'organic' has been doing the rounds for quite some time. Question is: which foods does one begin with?
If you're looking to go organic, Ashmeet Kapoor, founder of I Say Organic, an Indian organisation that connects farmers in Haryana and Himachal to their customers, has recommended these five foods that are not just native to India, but add a special flavour to your palate when consumed in their organic avatars.
This golden fruit with its glossy, juicy insides deserves the title of 'King fruit' - and this type of mango is the 'King' of mangoes. "Alphonsos are extra-rich with aromatic compounds like mesifuran, (Z)-ocimene and octalactone, which are found in many other fruits like citrus, strawberries, and coconuts, but which come together in the Alphonso to give it a unique flavour," says Kapoor. "The Alphonso was developed by the Portuguese, who perfected mango tree crafting to create new varieties, hence the name."
Native to Assam and Darjeeling, Pekoe tea is as unique to its region as Champagne is to the Champagne region of France. "Light in colour but robust in flavour, Pekoe is considered a black tea but should really be classified as more oolong because of its incomplete oxidation," says Kapoor. He also adds that pekoe helps prevent cavities and is rich in antioxidants, which counter the free radicals in the body that can lead to cancer and premature ageing.
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"A fact not many know is that bananas are native to India," says Kapoor. Interestingly, another little-known fact is that bananas don't grow on trees. "It’s especially important to eat organic bananas because conventional bananas are often artificially ripened to a “natural” yellow colour with chemical ripening agents like calcium carbide, a known carcinogen," he adds.
These boast juicy seeds that are so soft, they appear almost seedless. "That wonderful texture is matched by a rich taste, and like other pomegranates they are a super fruit, filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals," says Ashmeet Kapoor, founder of I Say Organic."Originally native to Maharashtra, organic farmers love them because they are naturally resistant to common pests and don’t need chemical pesticides," he adds. Another advantage of these pomegranates are that they have tough skins that keep them from bruising, spoiling, or cracking for longer than other types of pomegranate.
A member of the ginger family, turmeric is widely recognised by it's rich orange-yellow hue and sharp taste. "Turmeric (or haldi) has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and is widely used in Ayurveda as a cure for inflammation," says Kapoor. "Modern studies also show that turmeric has many potential health benefits as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and more."