The next big market for sustainable food

As healthier and more sustainable alternatives become available in urban India, its advocates see the pandemic as an opportunity to build a bigger base of converts. …

On Mar. 24, when Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown, Mansi Arora was more excited than worried.

The 32-year-old resident of north Delhi thought this would be a good time to stay indoors, read a book, and order her favorite food to go with movies she had lined up. But stress kicked in when she realized that restaurants couldn’t execute home delivery orders—the pandemic prevention measure had blocked all movement. Even after restrictions eased up, delivery services struggled to find gig workers; many of them had migrated back to their hometowns when the lockdowns started.

She walked around the kitchen to whip up a meal, and found only packets of instant noodles and some expired packaged foods. Her local greengrocers were not allowed to enter her residential complex, and all markets were shut. Lacking options, Arora found herself gravitating towards the local, urban farms that had begun delivering fresh produce to her neighborhood. These farms had their own staff and did not rely on gig labor, and some of these had procured the delivery permits that were an uphill climb for uneducated local greengrocers.

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