Be it 14-year-old Nivedita’s parents who don’t mind paying a little extra for organic vegetables, or the young couple whose little boy runs around with a fruit basket in his hand, there are some faces that one regularly spots at The Farmers’ Market in Mumbai every Sunday.
Away from Mumbai, up north in Faridkot, Punjab, Kuldeep Saini’s weekend routine has not changed in the last 10 years. Come Sunday, he heads to the local market to buy organic vegetables. They are a family favourite he says. "They taste better and cook faster, and my parents and grandparents find them easier to digest." Over the last two years, he has noticed the crowds here growing. "The demand is so high that I sometimes end up having to go to the regular market, although I prefer not to," he adds.
With growing awareness about the harmful pesticides found in many vegetables and fruits we consume, the demand for organic produce is seeing a rise in India. A 2013 study by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India under the Union Agriculture Ministry found that common food items contain banned pesticides in quantities 1,000 times higher than permissible limits.
While the relatively higher cost of organic produce is still a barrier for many, experts promoting safe, sustainable agriculture are hopeful this will gradually change. As Kavita Sethi, founder of The Farmers’ Market, says, "When something is organic, when it is done from the heart, people come here of their own accord."