How can a small farmer compete with mega food producers ?
We look at an ingredient for its nutritional quotient and buy it based only on that certainty. If almonds are rich in omega fats and protein then we assume that every almond in the market possesses the health benefits that are highlighted in advertisements, labels and nutritional indexes.
The fact is that we are unknowingly falling prey to an international team of hungry profit grabbers who hide behind the wisdom of nutritionists and health gurus.
They will stop at nothing to make us believe that the best nuts and seeds are grown in faraway lands and that we need to grab them quickly when available.
The hundreds of marketing gimmicks targeted at a naive lot of consumers most often always hits the bullseye. We don’t stop to think about the possibility of how such foods can be made available in such excess despite agricultural lands shrinking globally.
The Indian market is flooded to the brim and continues to overflow with huge volumes of
- hybrid almonds,
- raisins and other dried fruits which we believe is crucial for our daily health.
With veganism becoming the new buzz word in dietary fashion,the one ingredient which is highest in demand as a lactose substitute is the cashew nut.
Cashews are used to make
- vegan cheese,
- vegan ice cream,
- vegan chocolate
- so much more.
Any Indian who grew up between the mid 70s- the early 2000s will tell you that
- “Eating cashew nuts was considered unhealthy” because it was believed to be a high calorie food which was dangerous to health.
- We were steered in the direction of almonds, walnuts and pecan and hazelnuts too because these didn’t grow in the same volume in our country as the cashews.
- Naturally a demand had to be created for the imported pistachio so it had to be celebrated as the healthier nut for snacking and to use in baking.
Cashew nut cultivation has long since been a part of the Indian farming scenario
States like Kerala, AndhraPradesh, TamilNadu and Maharashtra are home to cashew farmers following in their forefathers footsteps. But, the hybrid variety still managed to tantalise the economically weak farmer with the promise of a more comfortable life.
- The availability of native cashew nuts began to dwindle at an alarming rate.
- The cashew crop is used not just for the nut but also the cashew apple and the tender cashew in its green form.
- Cashew trees are known to adapt easily to most climatic conditions but they thrive best in loose sandy soil which is well aerated.
- Places like the Konkan coast , Malabar coast etc are where one hears of raw cashew based dishes which are a real local treat.
- In the West Godavari district,in Andhra Pradesh, cashew farming happens alongside mango and red chilli cultivation.
- The village of Pallantla in particular is home to the country variety of cashew nuts which are loaded with nutritive properties.
- In a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to wade through the sea of tainted foods to find what is real, Farmers of Pallantla are the real deal.
There are studies which show that most cashew nut cultivation in India is organic, at least about 85 %
But the sad truth is that many farmers have been tricked into growing cashew nuts which have been hybridised with the promise of getting better yields and higher margins.
- Pallantla is a quaint, gorgeously green village located in West Godavari district in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
- Yet another Indian rural village where life is unrushed, where people rise before the quack of dawn and have returned homes to their families and cattle before the shining stars are clearly visible in the sky.
- Blessed with different types of soil, both Black and Red, farmers here can cultivate various crops. The village is adorned with majestic Kadamba trees, Hibiscus flowers, every household growing their own vegetables, a small community of people, no one is a stranger.
- We spent a few days here with Prabhakar and Sameera, father- daughter duo who remain so committed to nurturing green grandeur on their organic farm via regenerative farming practices. Their cows are loved, fed millets and grains that grow as per season. The fertilizers used are all made on their farm itself.
- Their mighty majestic Cashew trees are over 3 decades old and one can simply get lost watching the sunlight trickle through the massive canopy of these trees to kiss the ground.
- Cashews are picked by hand. The nuts are not segregated in terms of size, color or shape like the hybrid trees. The taste is next level, we haven't tasted Cashews so good EVER! The difference in taste is so clear.
- The processing of the cashews is done by hand, in a small industrial belt which employs predominantly women from the nearby villages.
- Most cashews found in the market are processed once a year and are dried and dehydrated multiple times to keep them fresh.
- Pallantla is famous not just for its Kaaju but also for Red Chillies and Mangoes.
- Mirchi raised in Pallantla is in great demand for preparation of pickles for which it draws customers from far-flung places.
If we don’t train ourselves to question the source and variety of an ingredient then we will soon find ourselves consuming food which was altered by us humans for greed and which, ironically enough, is also the root cause for our failing health.
When the team at TBOF set out to Pallantla ,they did not expect to be awed by the quality of the cashew nuts that they came across.
The advantage of being a food brand
- which believes in complete transparency is that we have the pathway to reach the discernible Indian customer
- provide the right kind of food that he or she is looking for
- We have no secrets.
- We share in the hope of others following suit.
- We need the hard working aunty next door, the young corporate executive , the retired school teacher and the little one who opens her snack box at play time to know that they have access to the kind of food which will contribute to their daily lives in a way that every rupee earned is spent well.
The time has come to look beyond the fancy tags in the promotions and the words like ‘fortified’ , ‘california’, ‘imported’ and actually take the time to know your Farmer.
Enjoy the best of native Single Origin Cashew Nuts - follow heritage recipes from the kitchens of the incredible cooks of the past, this approach is against excessive consumption and habits like mindlessly replacing dairy with cashew nut milk and cheese!
Gift yourself the bounty of health, the cashewnut way !