A cursory glance at a supermarket shelf in any metro in India will show you a number of edible options for children, with flavors ranging from banana to tender beef with vegetable mash. But a closer look will reveal that most of the products are in fact, more similar than different — they are heavy on either wheat or rice, and contain trans fats and alarming quantities of sugar. For a country that has a history of eating a large variety of grains including millets, this lack of diversity is a gaping hole in our ready-to-eat market.
This is exactly what prompted Shauravi Malik and Meghana Narayan to start Slurrp Farm, a brand of organic, millet-based products for kids.
Millets are making a come-back in India right now, and with good reason. They are hardy, weather-resistant, and are our best bet for combatting the drastic changes in climate that global warming is bringing about. They require less water to grow, and are highly nutritious. Shauravi explains that one reason we’re seeing an increase in food allergies is that the prevalence of certain ingredients in most of the food consumed — for example, corn, in the United States. “The human body is consuming too much of one ingredient and that’s what has lead to allergies and children being born with an inability to process certain types of food. If you look at it in the Indian context, it’s not dissimilar. We have become grain monocultures, [growing and consuming mostly] wheat and rice.” Millets have played a big role in states like Karnataka, where finger millet (ragi) has been fed to kids for generations. Shauravi herself grew up on with millet playing a substantial role in her diet through dishes like mudde and dosa.