Comment

The Immortal Wonder Food: Amaranth

Called Chaulai in Hindi, Harive Dantu in Kannada and by various other names across Indian and international languages, Amaranth is a wonder food that has been cultivated in various parts of the world for thousands of years. The word amaranth comes from the Greek word amaranton, meaning "unwilting", which was considered fitting because it did not soon fade and so symbolized immortality.

This green is a true powerhouse: 100 gm of Amaranth greens give you over 16% of your daily calcium requirement, which is one and a half times as much as a 100 gm of milk! It also gives you 59% of your daily iron requirement, compared to 21% in spinach, 11% of your potassium needs, compared to 8% in bananas and 13.5 gm of protein compared to 7.35 gm in moong dal. See this article for a dedicated piece on health benefits.

Like all greens, it is important to use it as close as possible to harvest and preferably not overcook. The variety we currently supply is the long stemmed green Amaranth, which has a thick fleshy stem with higher fibre content and not as many leaves. We are still working to put together pictures - meanwhile, here are some exciting different ways of cooking the stem: as an addition to a raitha, an Oriya stir fry, a dal dish a Tamilian stew and a soup. We are also growing the leafy variety with thinner stems, which should be out for supply around end August, which may be cooked differently.

We hope you enjoy the flavours of the farm fresh, organically grown Amaranth you receive this week! Do write in or send in your recipes to share the love & keep watching this space for updates.

(All information and figures based on Wikipedia)

Comment

Comment

The Role of Soil in Organic Agriculture

A big difference between conventional agriculture and organic agriculture is the role of the soil. In conventional agriculture, the health of the soil is not given much importance; chemical inputs make up for the deficiencies in the soil.  The soil acts more as a base for the plant to absorb the chemical inputs that are being applied. In fact, many farmers are not aware of what nutrients the soil may be deficient in. The government of India is making a big push towards getting all farmers a Soil Heath Card, a step in the direction of making farmers aware of the health of their soil.

In organic agriculture, soil is everything. Ensuring that the soil has all the necessary nutrients to support the plant is a very crucial element in organic farming. We at Purple Chilli, understand this very well and invest a lot of time and effort in getting the health of the soil right at the outset. See below for yourself.

 

Want to learn more about our soil preparation process? Come visit us on an Open Farm Day.

Comment

Comment

The Trouble with Growing Vegetables in Bangalore

This morning I had to go to Hosur for an early morning meeting. To avoid getting stuck in traffic, I decided to take the morning passenger train from Baiyappanahalli station. A few minutes in to the train ride and not far from the Bellandur Road railway station, I saw a number of small farms on the periphery of the rail tracks, mostly growing vegetables and greens. While we at Purple Chilli support eating locally grown produce, the water and air near the Bellandur lake is most unsuitable for growing our food. One independent academic research team in 2012 found heavy metal residues in green leafy vegetables grown in Bangalore. Samples of palak grown near Bellandur were found to contain more than 20 times the permissible limit of lead (a heavy metal) prescribed by the United Nation's World Health Organization. Not surprisingly, the poor quality of the water and pollutants in the air were cited as the reasons for this level of contamination.

At Purple Chilli, we understand the need for using clean unpolluted water and chemically test the water we use to irrigate our farms. The soil is tested for residues even before we sow a single seed. Great food starts with good water, healthy soil, and lots of sunshine.

Comment

Purple Chilli kicks off

Comment

Purple Chilli kicks off

On March 20, we made a small beginning with a kickoff event in the corner of small three acre farm in Ramnagara district about 70 kilometres from Bengaluru. Sitting comfortably in the shade of a coconut tree that was dutifully protecting us from the midday sun, we asked a group of farmers what their challenges were.  

Agriculture is not a viable occupation anymore, we may need to look at other employment opportunities soon

The first remark did not surprise us, "Agriculture is not a viable occupation anymore, we may need to look at other employment opportunities soon." The farmer elaborated by saying that the rising costs of inputs did not allow him to make much of a profit anymore, especially given the low yields in his farm. Another farmer mentioned how the rewards of agriculture are not in the hands of the farmer anymore. He spoke about how the prices of tomatoes fluctuate wildly, and how it was impossible for him to estimate how much his tomatoes would fetch them in the market. A long part of the discussion was around access to water, and how without the security of having enough water, it was futile to even attempt farming.

Farmers at our kickoff event

We spent much of the afternoon listening, seldom speaking or expressing our point of view. Our single point agenda from the event was to truly understand the problems faced by a farmer. This is important for us because at Purple Chilli we firmly believe that agriculture should provide a decent and dependable source of livelihood for farmers. With this thought, we begin our work tomorrow morning.

Comment