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Turmeric tales: How good old haldi is polarising India & the West but starting a dialogue

Turmeric is a superfood in the West now & golden milk turmeric latte, which Indians know as their regular haldi doodh, is being called a healthy alternative to coffee.

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New Delhi: A popular ingredient in your grandmother’s kitchen is now a global health fad, prompting Indians to remind everyone where the “trend” originated from.  

At the heart of the conversation is the humble turmeric, which has now been declared a superfood with a version of it, the golden milk turmeric latte, championed as a healthy hipster alternative to coffee.  

The West, it seems, isn’t just content with the turmeric latte and is now discovering even more therapeutic and medicinal benefits of the traditional Indian spice that is an integral part of every Indian kitchen.

From supermodels swearing by turmeric face packs, Hollywood celebrities such as Gwenyth Paltrow offering their favourite turmeric latte recipes, to people on the internet claiming that every possible illness can be cured by the spice, turmeric has become a huge lifestyle trend in the First World, while India looks on with confusion. 

The trend has even made its way to supermarkets that now offer all kinds of unusual turmeric-based products. Turmeric cold-pressed juice, vegetable and turmeric soup, turmeric green tea, and turmeric tonic are all now available at prices that would seem exorbitant to any regular Indian for whom turmeric is a humble staple in the spice rack at home.

It is ours, say Indians

And on cue, there has been a pushback from Indians. 

“Americans Are Once Again Obsessed With Something That Indians Have Been Having For Years”, “Turmeric Was India’s Cure-All Long Before Hipsters Made It A Latte read headlines that have tried to exasperatedly tell Americans that their overpriced turmeric lattes are actually just regular good old haldi doodh (turmeric milk) and before they exotify the spice so much, they need to credit where it comes from.  

The debate emerged on Twitter again Monday, as a health blogger mocked America’s obsession with turmeric being a “magical healing spice”, and another chiming in to say even though her community had been consuming turmeric for centuries it didn’t necessarily mean that they were completely free of all illnesses. 

 

The fad is fuelling a market

As the debate about whether the West is culturally appropriating haldi doodh and how magical the effects of the spice really are, the fact remains that Americans love to buy turmeric — a lot of it.

According to Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI), India is the world’s largest producer and exporter of turmeric, with exports pegged at $236 million in 2018, and North America is its largest market. TPCI Chairman Mohit Singla said curcumin, a substance found in turmeric, is now in huge demand from pharmaceutical, food and even cosmetic industries, which has driven up global demands of the golden spice. 

This has prompted entrepreneurs such as Sana Javeri Kadri to see a business opportunity. A Mumbai native who was completing her graduation in America, Kadri was curious with this phenomenon and wanted to know where all this turmeric actually came from. 

After spending five months travelling in India to understand how the spice was grown, how it entered the supply chain and finally made its way to America, she decided to start her own company, Diaspora Co. She told Forbes last year, that her intention was to “decolonise” turmeric, take back its narrative, promote it as a ‘Made in India’ product and disrupt its convoluted supply chain that had multiple middlemen barely paid its farmers. She now sells organic, fair-wage turmeric that even The New York Times stands by.  

 


Also read: Indian food fourth most popular in the world, a study of cuisine trade finds


 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has always been considered as nature’s marvel when it comes to its medicinal properties. It has been evidenced to have the best natural anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiviral and anti-neoplastic activity. It has been in use in India for centuries as an indispensible part of our kitchen, also as a home remedy, be it for its healing effects, or as spice. It is today receiving focused attention across the globe. However, there is one important thing to note —most of the curcumin (turmeric) that is consumed as a routine is just not enough to derive its medicinal properties. This is precisely the reason why medical professionals recommend curcumin (turmeric) to be consumed as a supplement. The best curcumin supplements are endowed with good bioavailability. Such quality supplements are developed using patented novel technologies such as the UltraSol Curcumin (You could check Bio-AV Curcumin by Omni Wellness and Nutrition). Clinical studies suggest that one tablet of UltraSol curcumin, daily, is equivalent to having 18 spoonful of standard turmeric. In fact, my doctor colleagues have been prescribing it to many of their patients with impressive therapeutic results. The recommended dosage is just right and safe too.

  2. Turmeric grown from Erode, contains 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content.which is having cancer curing properties and ingredients and having international acceptance for that. Received GI tag recently for that too. Google for further details.

  3. Haldi / turmeric is good for health in many ways as basically it eliminates any sort of inflammation. Any health issue starts with inflammation whether visible or invisible. The core compound which acts is Curcumin in turmeric. So the percentage of Curcumin in any variety of turmeric is important. It is said “lokodonga variety ” and “Pritam ” has more Curcumin. Secondly the compound Curcumin dissolves in fat. It may be butter ,oil ghee or any oil .Another aspect is when turmeric is added to milk or in curries better add pepper or pepper powder. The pepparin in pepper enables the digestive system to obsorb more or else most of the Curcumin may be drained with gastric juices.

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