Twelve years ago, Satish Kumar Burra was riding high on a successful career travelling across the world while working with Cap Gemini, just a few steps away from getting on to the directorial board when a personal tragedy brought him back home. His brother, just a few years elder to him working with an IT firm, died of cancer just like that.
An active youngster, just of 34 years, who was a National champion swimmer with no history of smoking or drinking alcohol had just one vice. He enjoyed food and very often ate outside food and from what Satish could see it could only be the pesticide ridden food that we consume today that is our undoing and cause of an increased number of cancer patients.
The personal tragedy affected Satish in more than one way. He couldn’t get back to his routine without reflecting on the food scene back home, which is when he made a decision. He began to grow organic grains in his agricultural land in Karimnagar with the help of his now retired father. They toiled hard, but from managing farming in the not so familiar surroundings to supplying to supermarkets and other retail outlets that was neither yielding any tangible profit nor was it serving his purpose could not be continued for long.
This is when he introduced the concept of Organic Thali (a Start-Up) – wholesome lunch thali that has in addition to salad (sprouts/ boiled nuts), a sweet like millet laddu, korra payasam etc, two vegetarian curries, dal with leafy vegetable, sambar and rice – all at the cost of just Rs 75. He took a space off the HITEC City road, closer to IT district, and opened his kitchen using the best industry practices of quality and cost efficiency.
It was not long before he got a hold of the supply chain, cooking line and catering. Today, his organic thali reaches several IT companies; he also has kiosks at various campuses where the techies can enjoy the thali. He also supplies organic snacks, juices like sabja lemon, ragi java at these kiosks. Very soon he plans to come up with more options even as the research is underway to prepare healthy and organic alternatives to popular snacks.
The organic grains are sourced from around 29 farmers from across Telangana in addition to what his farm produces. He says, “When you use pesticides, it is the farmer whose health is first affected. In fact, overuse of pesticides is also linked to suicidal tendencies.
I started Organic Thali with two main objectives - Improve health and Income for Farmers; Provide Tasty and Healthy food to the Urban consumers (Adulteration free and Chemical free food). One of the most overrated aspects of organic food is its cost. By making organic food costly, it has been made exclusive to a certain section of people. My aim is to be able to supply organic thali at the least possible cost so that it reaches to a wider section of people and improves overall health.”
The absence of pesticides and preservatives and the passionate team who is trained to give only the best makes the Organic Thali one of the tastiest vegetarian thalis in Hyderabad. “Healthy food can be tasty too,” states Satish.
From using cold pressed oil to procuring the natural Himalayan Pink Salt and going personally to the dairy farm to ensure milk is unadulterated, care has been taken at every stage to make the food as organic as humanly possible.
Staying true to the ideals and sustaining for so long by struggling to make the ends meet has not been a smooth process. “It has been an extremely difficult journey. The only reason I could sustain and continue is because I am passionate about the cause, and I have known all along that this is a social enterprise and not a profit-making business.
However, in order to be able to ensure I supply organic food at affordable price, I need to expand my reach. I am hoping that the corporates support me to be able to achieve my goal. I plan to expand to other cities as well,” says the youngster, who is an inspiration, and a hope for a healthy India.