Health food in glamorous packages – that was the idea behind body balance instructor-turned-entrepreneur Mrinalini Mukherjee’s organic bazar. In an attempt to give the city a taste of healthy and tasty veggies and snacks, she started an organic food market from January. From Sundarban and Midnapore farmers to city chefs, several kinds of “safe” food-makers find place at Alo, a curated open-air market held at Daga Nikunj, Ballygunge Circular Road, every Saturday.
Varieties of hand-crafted and flavoured cheese, tea, kombucha (a type of tea), pesticide-free greens, ragi snacks and homemade dips and pickles were up for grabs at the market, which also attracts those looking more options in vegetarianism.
“Organic food is not as boring as it sounds. We are just packaging basic good homemade produce differently here. The dips, hummus and cookies can make for interesting snack options,” says Mukherjee. “I had suffered from health problems myself. That’s when I realised the importance of clean eating. This initiative by my brand Ira is a step towards building a more conscious society,” she adds.
A group of farmers makes a five-hour journey every Saturday to reach the market. “We come from Patharpratima area of South 24 Parganas.
We sell the produce of 23 villages,” says Hiranmoi Giri, a co-operative member, who brings seasonal greens, homemade honey, naru and pickles. A Midnapore group sells oyster mushrooms, goyna bori and homemade paneer.
“More people are learning to make compost at home and grow greens organically,” says Mukherjee, who plans to invite more collectives from Bengal to sell their produce for free here.