1. How difficult is it to own a Green food Eatery ?
Well ours is a production kitchen making products rather than an eatery. It has its inherent difficulties or perhaps challenges as we would like to call it. We are all about starting with the right ingredients, so sourcing of ingredients that are unpolished, unsulphered, organic, unrefined etc..is a bit of a challenge. the raw materials by themselves are expensive, and then comes the outfitting of the kitchen, staff, packaging etc…it requires quite a bit of investment to achieve some scale.
2. Can you highlight the goodness of healthy food?
Organic inherently guarantees that we are not loading our body with toxins in the form of pesticides, fertilizers and also by method of preparation we avoid preservatives, artificial flavours, transfats, hydrogenated oils…that way we are giving the body, food in the form that it recognizes, in the form that the earth gives it to us (hence TerraEarthfood) and that is the best you can do for your body..we take this a step further by removing toxins in preparation by not using plastic storage vessels, non stick pans etc,
This way it is not just healthy for the body but also healthy for the earth…organic farming, green practices all keep the earth healthy for generations to come.
3. Who writes recipes for the Snacks?
Some ideas are modifications of traditional snacks like murukku, some are completely our own like the green mixture, millet flakes mixture, live nut bars etc…
I generally think these up and we carefully work on the proportions and finally convert the recipe to a formula once we are happy.
4. How often do you eat at your own Snacks bar?
Well all snacks in our home and extended family, all are from Terra!
5. What was your last job? Why did you leave your last job?
I am an architect and have had my own design office since 1995 and we handled design of all types be it corporate buildings, residential projects, industrial structures, interiors, hospitality spaces, exhibitions etc. I am also an award winning jewellery designer and have had my designs exhibited nationally and internationally..currently I am wrapping up the last of my design work to fully focus on Terra.
6. How many people work at your shop?
We are now about 22 people.
7. Any plans of introducing Organic Beverages?
We do plan to have vegetable juices and fresh yogurt smoothies at our flagship store.
8. Tell us more about your Organic garden?
Ours is a small garden in about a ground of land adjacent to our building..it is special to us as Nammazhvar, the father of organic farming guided us in the process and we successfully grow plenty of vegetables and herbs for our use there…our plan is to distribute the vegetables to our staff who otherwise may not have access to organic produce.
9. What is your motto?
we have a detailed story board for what we do…Condensed into principles, they are as follows…where everything is whole, where we use only unprocessed whole ingredients – unpolished brown rice, unrefined oils, unsulphered dry fruits, unrefined palm sugar…where mindful is the norm where practices are mindful – using stainless steel, cast iron cookware, glass for storage, eliminating toxic non stick cookware, maintaining hygienic healthful practices where the old becomes new where we re-introduce forgotten ingredients like millets, re-invent classics, re-juvenate traditional materials, find modern expressions for traditional ingredients…where the sprit is green where we try to be as green as we can – using local ingredients, eco-friendly packing material where possible, eliminating all chemicals in housekeeping washing etc.,, using old furniture …
10. What is fast-moving? Is it organic pastries or organic sweets or crunchie-munchies like muruku , pokaras etc.?
We see that each category whether it be the savory snacks, vegan sweets or gluten free baked items..each have their own audience. Our vegan kaju kathli, organic ladoo, green mixture, and glutenfree vegan bread would be some of our favourites..
11. We find the product packaging very interesting. Tell us more about it?
Well, we were aiming to see how ecofriendly we can get…so we use unbleached kraft paper, and corrugated boards wherever applicable.
I design all our packaging and graphics and we like to keep it earthy yet colourful so ethnic snacks can also appear “cool and hip”!
12. How do you replace plastics?
All our boxes are made of unbleached corrugated boards and cookie covers etc. are made of unbleached kraft paper.
Our savouries however , we began by packing them in butter paper covers but found that people were hesitating to buy when they do not see the product and at the behest of the retailers we reluctantly shifted to plastic covers for the savouries. however we are in the process of replacing the same with bio-plastic covers made of plant material..we will get there soon.
In the kitchen we never use plastic containers to store anything…we use only glass or stainless steel. Our carry bags are made of newspaper and jute.
13. A busy life is no excuse to breakfast. Tell us about the breakfast bar?
Our breakfast bar is live, organic, gluten-free, grain-free, vegan. It is a very Omega-3 rich bar made of a rich nut and seed mix. We sweeten the same with forest honey or fresh apples. We soak and sprout the nuts before making the bar and then we make them at temperatures below 115 degrees F so as to keep the enzymes from getting destroyed, hence the bars are deemed live raw food as opposed to baked bars.
We do seasonal flavours as we use fresh fruit – we have apple-cinnamon, orange-apricot, dark chocolate- vanilla ( the chocolate is dairy free and a high cocoa content) and more flavours in the pipeline…
14. Do you make theme based snacks for parties/Weddings?
We make regular and customised snacks for parties, weddings, birthdays, corporate orders. Our USP is apart from the snack itself we also customise the packing with personal messages according to the event.
15. Terra food gives a social message for people who care a lot about environment. Can you tells more about it?
We feel that having said organic unprocessed food is our core, we would not be walking the walk if we do not give back to the earth by going as green as we can. So Our cooking practises are mindful and we do not use microwaves, non stick pans, plastic (we store only in Stainless Steel bins, glass bottles) etc. and aim to eliminate toxicity in terms of the utensils and methods.
We attempt to be as green as we can in terms of
- having a small organic garden for herbs and small plants,
- using local raw materials as far as possible and not importing ingredients.
- using unbleached paper for packing, and office stationery
- minimising use of plastic packaging to only where unavoidable,
- using found material/ used items for our furniture
- using “waste” building materials like broken tiles, store reject materials for our store/ kitchen.
- using natural materials like bamboo, stone etc, in our building.
- handing out carry bags made of newspapers,jute, fabric waste bits, etc.
- using hand loom fabrics for our staff aprons etc.
- eliminating use of all chemicals in terms of housekeeping, washing utensils, etc.
16. How long did it take for your idea of organic foods to come into action?
These principles have been in practise in my home for over 10 years now and so all the time the idea has been brewing and a couple of years of research, thought and immersion in this process has brought it to fruition.
17. What are your next plans?
Just like our products, we have let our growth also be organic in a way ! Somehow with no aggressive marketing strategy etc..this has caught on in a gratifying manner in a relatively short time and we are humbled by the response.
We are constantly looking at innovation, new ideas and artistry in our products and the product range will keep expanding with more gluten-free vegan baked good also coming into the fray apart from healthy breakfast options.
Our flagship store is in the works and we aim to open very soon.
We are expanding to retailing from stores all over India and we are currently in Mumbai, Bangalore, Pondicherry and we are looking to enhance that reach.
18. With Marketing happening more on the Digital Space. How challenging is it to sell organic food online?
Well, apart from those who drop in at Terra ( which we always encourage and like ) our only virtual meeting point with our customer base is right now our facebook page…and it has been wonderful that we could pay individual attention to every customer. We are able to announce new products, events and ideas and interact and get a real feedback and feel for things like never before; and once we have an online store, I think it will only get better.