Visiting the Spice Farms of India

with Simply Organic


Visiting the Spice Farms of India

with Simply Organic

Forward by: Rachel Gurjar
Article by: Laura Newman

Spices are my life. Their color, fragrance, and flavor are the fundamentals of my cooking and, trust me when I say this, all Indian chefs! I had the trip of a lifetime with TeamFeedfeed and Simply Organic to go to Kerala, India to visit their spice farms in the lush mountains. Our talented videographer Laura Newman joined me, and she captured some amazing visuals and beautiful moments between the team from Simply Organic and the spice farmers. Let take a look at the trip from her lens. Read on below as Laura gives you an inside look at her experience in India! - Rachel Gurjar

Black pepper was once so valuable to trade that it was actually used as currency, and the gold standard was once referred to as “black gold.” While visiting the lush farmlands of Kerala, our local guide informed us that we were actually in the birthplace of pepper! This beautiful vine grows on tree trunks, shooting out 3-4 inch spikes with little green peppercorns winding in rows.

I had been in India once before, studying nutrition with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in Pune. I was with a group of American women learning about meditation and yoga and how chefs there infuse the oil with whole spices, throwing cardamom pods and full peppercorns into the oil. I’d only ever seen spices ground into a powder and it was a revelation to see them cooked whole. This most recent trip took it one step further, giving us the incredible opportunity to see the plants that grow our spices. I had no idea that cinnamon was a bush, its leaves tinted red, or that nutmeg looked like a small apple and when opened revealed the shiny red mace.

Looking at the pepper shaker on my kitchen table now, this trip has turned the black stuff I put on my eggs in the morning into a journey through history and halfway around the world. I feel connected to that legacy and the land now that I’ve seen the source. I’ve been buying spices from Simply Organic for years and I was impressed with the passion and integrity that Seth, Dawn and other members of their team exhibited while touring the farms and mills that supply them. It was amazing to see how they work with such small farms, many of them less than an acre, sending agriculture experts deep into the mountains via their local partner PDS Organics Spices.

For over a decade these two companies have worked together to advocate for family farms; supplying resources, education, and technology that usually only high scale mono-crop farms can financially sustain. PDS offers soil testing and guides farmers in the transition to organic practices. This is not only better for the planet but also gives farmers a higher income. It reminded me of the philosophy of my Brooklyn CSA (Community Supported Agriculture where I get much of my produce) because, Simply Organic promises the farmers that if they transition to organic, they will purchase all their crops, a guarantee that provides incredible security to some of the most vulnerable farmers in the world. Through this partnership, Simply Organic promises real flavor, using real, quality ingredients. This ensures that when you're using Simply Organic Real Spices, you're adding Real Bite to your recipes.

I see this partnership as the future; local and global business working together. The corporate entity can provide legal support, scientific prowess and the marketing needed to be competitive (such as paying for these very films I’ve made) while the families supplying our food can still operate ecologically, keeping heirloom varieties alive and living on the land rather than commodifying her.  

My favorite part of the trip was getting to see and film all of the roots, fruits, and seeds that used to just be a colorful powder in a glass jar to me. These are the spices that enliven the senses and give life to my food. Now I know who gives life to that life.

Simply Organic is working with farmers to source the highest-quality ingredients. To learn more about Simply Organic Spices and how their real spices add real bite to recipes, click here.

To see how we use Simply Organic spices in our recipes, check out these recipes