It's Eid-ul-Adha today, the second most important festival for Muslims after Ramzan, and the tempting aroma of mutton kormas and biryanis will be wafting from homes and eateries alike. Bangalore's love for spicy biryani and grilled meats is no secret with kiosks and restaurants specialising in just these, dotting many localities.
Delighting in these gastronomic adventures has given rise to the conscious foodie. One who is aware of anti-biotic and pesticide-laden meats and the unsanitary and unhealthy conditions that livestock is brought up on. It is for just this kind that Bangalore has responded with places and organisations that offer organic poultry and meat. These are reared without the use of conventional chemical pesticides and artificial fertilisers and the product is processed without ionizing radiation or food additives.
Like free range eggs. This implies that the hens have access to large open spaces to roam freely and a pen to find shelter in at nights and nests to lay eggs in privacy. Free range birds are increasingly becoming popular among the environmentally conscious because the birds have a more natural diet than birds in other intensive farming methods. They can eat grass and bugs in addition to their ration of millets, wheat and ragi.
Manjunath Marappan, who founded Happy Hens Farms in Chikkaballapur, says eggs from a free range bird will have thicker yolks, indicating a better diet. "We include herbs like Brahmi, basil, sweet flag, turmeric, Nila vembu, Keela Nelli in the diet of our hens. The herbs enriches the nutritive value of the eggs and meat. The high medicinal value ensures good health of the birds."
Happy Hens Farms sells about 10,000 eggs in a month. "The response has been great. The only problem is that we don't have any institution that will give technical support to organisations like ours. We need to go back two generations to see how people grew food and poultry in their backyards and replicate the process on a larger scale," says Manjunath.
BTM Poultry and Seafoods on BTM 100 ft ring road offers an assortment of organic meat and poultry which they source from farms in Kolar and Tamil Nadu. It boasts 4,500 a strong customer base. "Even Girish Kasarvalli buys from our store," says A Khan, owner who concedes that the high cost and low availability of organic products is slowing rapid growth in demand.
Greater awareness needed
Situated in Marathahalli, Lumiere, the restaurant, also sells organic chicken and eggs from their own organic poultry farm in Kolar. They sell fresh vegetables too. "We raise free-range poultry only for our restaurant and store. We don't really intend to do it in a huge manner, simply because we don't have the space for it. We hope more people will champion the cause of organic farming," says Manjunath Pankkaparambil, the co-founder.