A review by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded that organic food does not have any significant advantage over normal food. However, this holds no water with millions of health conscious people around the globe including in Nepal where interest in organic food is growing stronger every other day. Well, here’s a question for you all—who do you think is the first to bring organic food into the limelight in Nepal? The answer is Samir Newa. He is the founder of The Organic Village in Baluwatar, Kathmandu. Founded in 2003, The Organic Village’s aim is not only to grow food that is chemical-free but also to make the public more aware of their benefits. Agencies like UNDP, Winrock International, GTZ, Micro Enterprise Development Program and Small Grants Program have given due support and blessings to The Organic Village.
How does The Organic Village function? Obviously, one of its primary strengths is the local farmers it works with who are provided with a self-sustainable approach to farming as well as markets. It also serves as an information center on organic farming besides being the focal point from where products are sold all over the capital as well as some other cities like Narayanghat and Pokhara. What products exactly does it sell? Rice, lentils, jams, beans, honey as well as different vegetables and fruits and dairy and meat products, in other words, quite a variety. Where are most of the products grown? All together, The Organic Village gets its products from 33 districts of the country, but more so from high up in the mountains like Jumla, Humla and Mustang, where food are apt to contain less fat than those grown in warmer regions. And, what exactly are its premium products? Jumli Marsi Rice from Jumla (grown at 2,500 m); Kalo Dal (black lentils) from Rasuwa (grown above 2,000 m); red rice and yellow rice from Humla; frog meat (called ‘paha’) are some such products. .The Organic Village has also begun exporting its products to the United Kingdom, the Unites States, South Africa and Qatar.
Speaking of other Nepali organic food companies, one must mention Kheti Bazaar which is located at Bhojan Griha Restaurant’s premises in Dilli Bazaar of Kathmandu. Although established just a few years ago, it is already a popular market for organic food lovers, having a diverse range of Nepali organic food. In addition, at Kheti Bazaar, products are classified as OP, meaning organic-in-process (the grower has stopped using chemical fertilizers for less than three years), O, meaning Organic (grown for more than three years without chemical fertilizers) and DO, meaning Default Organic (products are from extremely remote places where chemical fertilizers have never been introduced). The more popular products here include vegetables, lentils, white rice, brown rice, coffee, tea, cheese, pesto, fresh spices and dried spices as well as Nepal’s only certified organic apples (grown in Mustang). You can also buy organic croissants and breads every Saturday morning.
Another place where you can get organic foodstuff is the 1905 Restaurant in Kantipath, Kathmandu where a Farmers’ Market is held every week. A particular specialty of 1905 Restaurant’s market includes three varieties of artisan cow’s milk cheeses—Tomme, St. Marcellin and Ricotta— produced by Himalayan French Cheese Company. Here, you can also buy Fresh Organic Farm’s large selection of vegetables and fruits as well as Himal Farm’s artisan cow’s milk cheeses including fresh-milk mozzarella, smoked cheese, soft fresh cheese, charcuterie, sausages, boar meat and burger patties.
Photo: M Heredge
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