Do you feel change in the air?
Well, let’s start from the beginning – 4-6 decades ago, life was simpler with fewer and probably healthier choices. I still remember the deep brown jaggery, grains milled at the local chakki, unpolished daals and edible oil processed in ‘kachi ghanis’. With the advent of 80s, the rising consumer demand and a new definition of healthy life led these simple, crude, perhaps sometimes unhygienic and definitely non-scalable processes gave way to mechanized products.
Voila! With a span of few decades we saw refinement in every area - refined atta, refined edible oils, sugar, salt, pulses and the list goes on. Packaged food industry gave birth to a whole new paradigm, ‘whiter the better’. The more the sugar looked whiter and granular the better the positioning and pricing. Over time foods started being fortified and enriched with vitamins & minerals, thus cornflakes became the accepted breakfast cereal, Horlicks a must have milk additive, bread the staple diet and packaged juices and colas the new hydration standard.
However, stressed lifestyles, lifestyle related diseases, better research and higher disposable incomes have once again tipped the balance in favor of older methods and traditional products. Over the past decade we witness resurgence where people have started to look back and pick threads from we left them 5-6 decades ago. So just as we were weaned away from basic foods, money is now being spent to offer natural, organic, unprocessed foods and bring these options on the dining table. There is increased noise about cold pressed juices, mechanical extraction of oils, whole and ethnic grains, farm raised poultry, milk from grass fed cattle, etc. And this noise is not limited to food alone. We see this demand building up in clothing with cotton, linen becoming the new standard, personal care with haldi, tulsi and neem based products and few other categories. Plus, armed with better consumer understanding, marketers are adding interesting innovations on top of traditional processes. E.g. the new age grindstone atta chakki’s are fitted with slow rpm motors to reduce nutrition damage due to heat.
I certainly feel change in the air and hopefully these traditional methods and products will seize their rightful position in the marketplace. Only time will tell!