- October 1, 2020
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Food Files from Goa, Health Food
By Shobhika Jaju
Images: Stock Images
Over the past few years Goa has been witness to emerging trends in the healthy eating domain. Be it a fad with clean eating, a rise in the market for organically grown produce, or artful representations of food served with its raw essence intact at certain restaurants specializing in farmto-table dining, this food haven has seen it all. And this trend doesn’t seem to be going away anywhere; instead is here to stay, it seems, for good. Let’s understand what’s really going on when we use the terms, organic, clean eating or farm-to-table & why is it relevant to Goa now, than ever before.
When we say that an item is organic, it primarily means that the product has been grown in an ecologically sensitive manner and is free from pesticide use. With the increased influx of pesticide laden, artificially ripened veggies and fruits, it was in fact just a matter of time before those living in Goa (much like friends & family in metros) also imbibed the pattern of eating produce grown sustainably. Throughout the year and across the state, there are farmer’s markets or sustainable products’ fairs being organized by organic food enthusiasts who want to promote the use of these items among the local community. In a way we are acknowledging the age old practices of letting nature do its job and accept its bounty on face value rather than adhere to artificial means of producing consumables. Goa in fact, serves as the perfect backdrop for organic products with its rich natural diversity which is highly conducive to the production of food grown with some love and hard work.
Now that we are clearer about what is organic produce, let’s find out where & how we can satisfy our cravings for some wholly natural products. The most popular organic produce markets around Goa these days are the Goan Farmer’s Market, & SULIMARK which keep happening in the north and south, periodically. But other than these temporary markets, several stores in Goa, now identify as organic stores. Some of the more popular and easily accessible ones include the FabIndia stores for its wide range of organic grains, millets, ghee, spices, pickles, oils, jams, etc. Of course, organic variants of jaggery, pulses, oils, and more are now easily available at popular general stores like Newtons, Magsons & Borkars. Another organic trend that’s caught up among Goans is to grow one’s own veggies and fruits at home. Frequently enough, there are workshops on organic farming at home, extracting oil or making spices from whole nuts, etc. One can connect with several home based ‘farmers’ at the organic markets organized periodically. And well, not only the daily staples but the humble coconut has also found its organic counterpart in local brands like Narla, which offer a range of coconut products like the quintessential oil & flour, all grown & manufactured in a sustainable manner without the use of pesticides. While talking about organic, how can we forget organic chocolates? These chocolates are manufactured from cocoa beans which are organically grown and instead of being manufactured at big factories in machines are manufactured by hand using natural sweeteners & herbs for flavouring & are often even wrapped individually in paper and other eco-friendly materials. There are many a home bakers spread across the state who source organic chocolate from vendors for their sweet delights.
The idea of clean eating, goes beyond just eating organic. It’s about embracing a lifestyle that consists of eating food which is as close to its true form as possible and keeping processed food as far away from the diet as possible. The concept honours food items for what they truly are with the least amount of cooking, few seasonings, and few, if any, additives, all with the aim of honouring the real flavours & textures of the items being consumed. For instance, refined sugar is seen as a major threat to the idea of clean eating, instead jaggery or sugar in its other raw forms is being promoted as a healthy option. The fad of clean eating has slowly caught up among the denizens of Goa, and the mushrooming of nutritionists as well as an awareness about healthy diets has contributed further to this trend. We see more & more people opting for sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan diets. The easy availability of such dishes at restaurants in Goa has also helped create awareness about the same. One such place which comes to mind that really honours the true essence of the food served is The Chikoo Tree Project in Margao which not only has food dishes but also an interesting mix of mocktails based on this concept. Amrapali, House of Grace in Velha is another such place that features food cooked with great care at preserving its natural flavours.
In line with the concept of organic produce & clean eating, is the whole thought behind the farm-to-table dining. The idea here is to source food locally, from local farmers and areas close to one’s place of residence. Shipping in food from far off places has its share of drama in terms of the quality of the products, is pesticide laden to increase its shelf life, and so on. So, chefs at prominent resorts in Goa are opting for produce sourced from local markets and hotels who have the land are increasingly growing their own veggies & fruits. Cabo Serai, a luxury eco-stay property at Cabo de Rama, is lucky to have its own coconut groves and cashew plants and strongly believes in the concept of farm-to-table; even the seafood served at the restaurant is directly sourced from local fishermen and if it’s not local, it’s not on the menu. More & more people are opting for the traditionally baked Goan Poi which is an inherent part of Goa’s culture, rather than the factory manufactured versions of the same. There is also an increased awareness about including fruits & veggies which are grown locally and/ or are native to the Konkan region, as part of the diet.
If you are not yet on it, here are some quick tips to get on the bandwagon of organic, clean & farm- o-table eating.
- Opt for brands which promote organic produce
- Choose wholesome natural foods & avoid consuming processed food items like chips, refined sugar, biscuits, & the like
- Cook food as per traditional methods & avoid adding too many spices to the dishes you are cooking
- Instead of binging over one or two meals, eat frequent small bites throughout the day
- Make locally grown fruits & veggies a part of your diet rather than hunting for exotic & imported ones
Ultimately, eating clean, consuming organically grown products & sourcing local ingredients is more of a lifestyle choice than a passing fad, and you have to commit to it whole heartedly to reap maximum benefits out of it. And with Goa totally on the map for this trend in eating patterns, this shall not prove to be a challenging task.