is an Indian organic food company, set up by eco-nutritionist Kavita Mukhi in 1992, and ‘discovered’ by entrepreneur Kristina Locke on a trip to India in 2006. I found out about the company when it was just about to launch a new range of millet ‘power snacks’ in Selfridges
Millet flour is an ancient, resilient and gluten-free grain, and because it needs no chemicals to thrive, it promotes bio-diversity in the areas in which it’s grown. Yes, I’ll admit to being hesitant about millet, “isn’t it that boring tasteless grain”, I thought but I have to say I was really impressed, not just by the enormous health benefits of the product, but by the great taste of Conscious’s power snacks. But millet is not just great in power snacks, it can also be used as a fantastic alternative to pasta, couscous and quinoa.
The grain is vastly undereaten in the west (hardly produced in the UK anymore) but in India it’s wonderfully abundant. Millet grows next to rice in paddy fields and needs no tending to, it is cheap and is sustinable to grow. Indian women actually wean their babies on it and being an alkaline grain means it is incredibly easy to digest. Its medicinal properties are valued in Ayurvedic medicine and it is known as a ‘sattvic’ food, which means it is naturally balancing.
What impresses me most is that the snacks are still made by hand, by a small team using family recipes and traditional baking methods; using no artificial ingredients or additives, no baking agents or yeast, just pure natural ethically traded ingredients, that are all sourced from small organic farming holdings and co-operatives found all over India. What’s even better about Conscious is that many of the products come from very small farms that wouldn’t otherwise earn a living. The millet and other ingredients are bought at 30-80% over the market price, which helps to ensure the survival of the communities that depend on these traditional farming techniques for a living, Conscious also works with cooperatives, NGOs and communities helping with schooling, medicine, women’s rights, etc.
Mumbai is where the tiny head office of Conscious Food is based, but the workshops, millet farms, and smallholdings where these little artisan health snacks are made, are all based in the Indian countryside. Using only natural ingredients such as millet, ginger, sesame and jaggery (palm molasses), to name a few, the conscious products are some of the most unpolluted on the market. Many of the farms they use are based in places as remote as the Himalayas, so you can only get to them by foot and can only use bullocks and carts, no modern machinery or pesticides.
As I have recently found out for myself, India really is a fantastic country, full of so many wonderfully friendly people, so please do your best to support companies like Conscious.
The products are available in Selfridges
, Planet Organic
, and other health food shops around the country, they are also regularly on tour at various health and food shows. Just think, they’ll make fantastic stocking fillers!
Just to whet your appetite, the savoury range includes:
- Pearl Millet Crackers, with mint and garlic
- Sesame Soya Sticks, lightly spiced with cumin
- Sorghum Wheat Crackers, with parsley and black pepper