“Bio Basics” is more than just a commercial venture focusing on organic food. They want people to turn organic for their basic necessities. Hence the name. It promotes a shift in the thought process in the way we perceive food . Their mantra is ‘be organic ,buy organic’ . Ramesh Chandran and his wife Sreedevi Lakshmikutty are the founders of this organic business. Ramesh who is a fund manager ,gave up his profession a few years ago. By his own admission he says he decided to ” follow in his wife’s footsteps” and veer towards adapting an organic lifestyle. Sreedevi has been involved in various agricultural movements for many years. After having lived in both the US and the Netherlands ,they were both struck by the disparity in the way people approached food. This experience led them to think about food ,not only from the consumer’s perspective but also from that of the agriculturist’s view point. They decided to move back to India a few years ago and co-founded ‘Urban leaves’ in Mumbai.It is a volunteer driver urban farming group which continues to happily flourish even today. She is a member of the project management team run by ‘Thanal‘ .It is an organisation that is involved in research and education ,with a focus on environmental health and justice,for the welfare of the public. Her current project is called “Save our Rice’ , a national campaign which looks at conserving nearly 1000 and more varieties of rice that were part of the traditional South Indian diet. They primarily work with farmers by supplying them with a minimum of two varieties of rice for growing and assure them of a market for the same. A yearly meet with the farmers keeps them in touch and also provides them a platform to motivate the farmer into living off his land in a sustainable manner. She is also part of the steering committee for anti GM foods. They were in the news recently, for lobbying against the Genetically Modified brinjal.
In 2013 they moved to Coimbatore. Ramesh and Devi bought land ,on the outskirts and along with like minded friends ,got into farming. They soon realised that Coimbatore was a city that was quite willing to adopt an organic and natural mindset. The various shops and grocers promoting the same was already an inclination of the growing thought process of the people here. After a fair amount of research ,they were able to identify some of the hitches prevalent in running a successful organic business. Devi , due to her interaction with farmers was alarmed at the increasing rate of farmers’ suicides. She talks woefully about a farmer ,that set fire to his entire sugarcane field and walked into those flames ! We find it painful ,to accidentally burn even the edge of our little finger at the hob,she says. Imagine the hopeless despair ,he would have faced to have to do something so horrific ! She appeals to people to support their neighbourhood organic stores. The difference in prices may require a rethinking of the monthly budget but one needs to think in terms of a long term investment in health and well being.
They set up Bio Basics a few months ago ,in order to bridge the gap between farmer and consumer in the simplest way possible. Their work ethic is simple. They involve no middlemen in their venture. They owe a responsibility to both producer and consumer. Their unique selling point is that the food is delivered to the customer’s doorstep . The fresh produce is delivered within half a day to a day from picking. This is not a venture that will short change the farmer neither will it offer produce of poor quality to the consumer. Therefore they do not negotiate with the farmer. Of course ,if they find that the price is beyond acceptable limits ,they merely tell him that it would be difficult to sell his produce on a consistent basis. They have trained staff who are equally passionate about this venture. They meet with the farmers once a week to pick up the harvest. They are completely open about their sources and are willing to address any concerns about the same.In this manner they know what is sourced from which farm and if there are any discrepancies whatsoever ,it can be easily traced back. The customers are contacted via e mail , whatsapp or sms. A list of the available produce is sent out every Friday. People are required to confirm their orders by Saturday evening via the same manner. This gives them a couple of days to sort out the requirements.Therefore there is no excess stock. Inventories are kept low. Mondays are the days they visit the various farms. The fruits and vegetables are brought to their warehouse on Monday evening and are sent out by mid morning on Tuesday. The warehouse is a cool terracotta tiled airy space. There are no unnecessary overhead costs like refrigeration.The fresh and the packaged produce are kept separate in a hygienic manner. They have cloth bags made of coarse cotton to deliver their goods. Their field manager Rathina Kumar helps them with the delivery. He himself is keenly involved in organic farming. The bags are brought back after delivery. Obviously they are mindful of all the concerns relating to the environment.
I spoke to a few of their regular customers at random ,to hear a first hand account of their experience of buying from Bio Basics.
Manish Shah from Race Course was one of their earliest customers. He could not be happier with his decision to go organic. He talks animatedly about the taste of the fruits particularly the papaya. The tastes remind him of his childhood, of a time when food tasted as it should. Despite the increase in his grocery bill ,he says that he is completely committed to eating organic produce from here on.He is a staunch supporter of Ramesh and Devi’s organic venture.
Professor Meena Duraisamy lives in Vadavalli. She has been a customer of Bio Basics for the past 2 months. She and her husband ,post retirement are now trying to live a very healthy lifestyle.They have turned completely vegan,thanks mainly to Bio Basics . At one time they who were hard core non vegetarians , now find no need to eat ‘that’ kind of food , she says. The reason being ,the vegetables are so tasty that they don’t miss the non vegetarian food. The fruits she says are “excellent” , the oil “pure” and “fresh”. She mentions a multitude of benefits. She says the vegetables are more dense and they have a longer shelf life without refrigeration . She cannot think about buying from other sources from now on. I have to mention her final endearing statement. Apparently though Meena’s husband thought her cooking was delicious, he always said that it fell short of that of his mother’s. Finally , she has now overcome that challenge,thanks to the availability of fresh sustainably grown produce.
Mr. Umesh and his family have moved back to India after having lived abroad for a couple of decades.A large part of his grocery list is sourced from Bio Basics. He finds their nallenai to be of exemplary quality. It was while living in California that they got introduced to the organic way of life.The message he has for people who look for picture perfect produce is that ,”Beauty comes with a price” !
He makes a very valid point when he says that he is happy to invest in a sustainable lifestyle that is beneficial to the farmer as well as to his family’s health. In supporting organic farming we are also helping in enriching the land and keeping the soil fertile. He cites the example of states like Punjab and Haryana where extensive use of pesticides have contaminated even the ground water. Tamil Nadu with it’s vast stretches of cultivable land ,does need the help of like minded people to thrive and continue to feed many mouths in the decades to come . He compares his home made potato chips made with organic potatoes to those made with regular potatoes. The difference between the two is so obvious with regard to taste , cooking time and density, with the organic potato being the winner.
Mrs. Hema khona , a resident of R S Puram is also a customer of Bio Basics since their inception. She has recommended their service to many of her friends and family and continues to do so. She is extremely satisfied and appreciative of their products and wishes that they continue to do well.
The hardwork done at Bio Basics is impressive.I am one of their new customers. It works very well for me ,as I know beforehand what vegetables and fruits I will be getting. That makes it rather easy for me to plan my other buys. My bill for this week was missing an ingredient. The green chillies. The reason for that was mentioned along with the rest of the items, the chilli farmer had hurt his leg and was unable to deliver. That bit of information puts you in immediate touch with the farmer. You wish for his speedy recovery and that is such a beautiful connect !
Even if one cannot afford to go completely the organic way , we can always try to strike a balance between what is organic and what isn’t.
Another very interesting characteristic of Ramesh and Devi’s work is their passion for imparting information on food. Their weekly list does not just comprise of the items available. It also includes a food write up. It could be a raw papaya poriyal recipe one week , an information and story on millets the next. This to me ,gives an insight into the depth of their commitment in educating others about a lifestyle where one needs to ‘know their food’ . They also run a non profit venture called ‘ Anantha’
1. 12 to 15 farmers around Coimbatore continue to benefit from this venture
2. Most of the fruits sourced come from the farms of like minded friends.
3. They do have the capacity to increase infrastructure to meet new demands
4.They offer fruits , herbs, vegetables, oils , pulses , spices, millets and cereals.
5.Fresh produce is completely seasonal and therefore based on availability
6. e mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Website: www.biobasics.in
8. Mobile numbers: 96776 10246 / 96776 40246
9.Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/
10. for more information check out www.thanal.co.in