FARM TO TABLE LIFESTYLE
Ravi and Kavitha Mantha's journeys began at Baby Elephant Farm, their organic farm in the west of Hyderabad. It led to a wonderful farm-to-table movement that guarantees fresh, local, seasonal produce and food. The chef, Kavitha, has designed and continues to update an eclectic menu based on the produce of the season. Cheeses are freshly made in-house every morning. These are just a few highlights - watch this video to learn and support their mission of creating healthy lives one farm, and one table at a time.
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I first heard about healer and wellness coach Ravi, through a friend. I consulted him about a foot sprain, rib inflammation, and other chronic issues I was struggling with for years. It took about 10 minutes (no medicines, no needles, nothing at all) and I have since been 100% pain-free. He is one of those exceptional healers who has a keen sense for treating the body holistically. This video is a quick overview of a noble initiative that offers nutrition in its purest, most wholesome form: the foundation step in healing and wellness.
Fun fact: we bought organic Holi colors from this store for our pre-wedding sundowner from here, and all we had to do was dust the colors off - no stains on our clothes nor skin, and there were no serious consequences when the color got into our eyes or if we ingested some by mistake...
I also spoke to Kavitha in detail about their farm, cafe, and overall wellness, but lost the footage to poor lighting. However, I transcribed and summarized it here, below the video:
Organic misrepresents what we do. The only time we want to use that word is when we are referring to the growth of the company. It has become a label and a marketing effort...an incredible one. Organic fundamentally means food that is grown without residue of any fertilizers. It doesn’t control the fact that you are actually using fertilizers, and the impact you might be having if not on the food then on the soil. It also doesn’t have any control on the seeds being used…
Natural farming is when you try to pull nutrition from the ground itself. Let's say you get hundred kilos of vegetables from an acre of land, the nutrition across an acre is essentially divided into that 100 kilos. If you’re using GM seeds just to get a higher yield, say 200 kilos, then guess what happens to your nutrition value? It goes down.
Soil is one thing organic misses, whereas permaculture and natural farming take into consideration. Food is about nutrition, and there’s a lot more to it before just eating it. Permaculture thinks not only about the person eating the food. There’s no fertilizers and pesticides used - we use cow dung, cow pee, Neem, and natural processes, and we take extreme care of the soil. There is always intercropping to make sure there are different levels and depths from which nutrition is being pulled. We keep changing beds to make sure one particularly nutrient isn’t being reaped out of a piece of land continuously. This ensures that in the long run, the yield might be smaller but the food is nutrient dense.
Our main goal is to tell you and show you where your food comes from. If you don’t know or care about that, you are seriously missing out on a big aspect of health. This is not easy, convenient, or quick, so in the US, we have to rely on Whole Foods or Trader Joes. That takes care of 40-50% and for most people that seems to be enough.
On how Sage Farm was conceptualized and developed:
Food is something I was always passionate about. The space we’re in today led to the fact that the cafe exists. When my partner and I came to take a look at spaces for our store, this place just lent into the store + cafe vibe. We had a few offices upstairs, with about 25 people working, so we started by cooking for this captive audience. We started off with a daily, set menu which we sent to them - it included soup, salad, a main, and a dessert chosen and designed by us entirely. We then took it to market where we had people pre-order a day before, along with dietary restrictions. We let them inspire us on Western vs. Indian cuisine, but the ingredients and recipes were all done by us. It was then developed with help from Chef India Hamilton to run like the restaurant and cafe that it is today.
On making cheese in-house with milk from farm-owned buffaloes:
A lot of the cheese you eat outside is not actually cheese. Processed cheese is cheese flavoring with a bunch of other things. When you grow up in India, you invariably grew up on Amul cheese and everyone loves it. That is your sense and flavor of what cheese should be, and it takes a while to appreciate cheeses from outside. But when you have kids, the authenticity of food starts to matter a lot. We’ve been able to spend on education, a really nice house, nice cars to drive…but we still question paying a premium on quality food. For instance, our Mozzarella sells for almost 2000 rupees per kg, compare that with Amul cheese which sells at 400 or 500 rupees per kg. I know that the simple cost of organic milk to make cheese is way higher than the MRP on Amul Cheese. That is really concerning...what has gone into making that cheese? Is it providing any nutrition? And it comes back to, why do we eat? We eat for joy, we eat for pleasure, but we also eat for nutrition.