#CrowdSourced: Why We Source The Way We Do

Jul 19, 2023AnOdeToGaia Journal

‘Sourcing’ has become a common term in the food world. A bit too common,
if we may add. And doubly-so for when food businesses have taken on a quality-first, socially responsible standing. But for the most part, this endeavour — to source ethically, mindfully and responsibly — is not easy, no matter the driving force behind it; genuine or not. For us, though, it was crucial. Baking is, after all, something of an alchemy, where each ingredient plays a pivotal role, almost having a mind of its own. Whisk in bad flour, and your cake won’t rise; use poor quality chocolate and there goes your entremet. As such, sourcing was not only a conscientious decision for us, but also, a technical one. Each one of our creations involve a vast variety of top-notch ingredients, from cocoa to various kinds of flours, fruits, flavourings, and everything in between. It’s natural to get better acquainted with your materials as you come to love your work, so every time we pick up an ingredient in the kitchen, we wonder: ‘Where did you come from? What did it take for you to get here?’

It all starts with the way we source our grain flour; the building block of any good bakery. While milling has been a traditionally low-impact industry, when it comes to the environment, the rise of industrial farming has greatly affected the sustainability, quality, and social footprint of wheat flour across India, with large, opaque corporations controlling much of the urban flour market. Instead, we prefer working with future-thinking  pioneers like Three One Farms, who prioritise responsible, transparent, and biogenetically informed cultivation. This helps us build a healthier world and a more favourable market for India's wheat farmers, who are often disadvantaged. We apply the same principles to sourcing our gluten-free flours, partnering with Taru Naturals, an award-winning, fair-trade network that safeguards the end-to-end value chain for small-scale tribal farmers across India. It’s a sweet deal for everyone involved, including The Earth herself.

While grain in all its forms is essential to our daily operations, various other ingredients form the cornerstone of our collections, many of which are sustainably sourced as well. Some of these solutions are as simple as regularly relying on organic, farm-direct, season-fresh produce for our fruit needs. Others require a bit of legwork — from seeking ways to reach lavender farmers in the heart of Kashmir to thoroughly understanding our partners’ business models — sourcing is serious business at our head offices.

For instance, the bittersweet balance of our dark chocolate ganache and mousse comes from Mason & Co. — one of India’s first farmer-direct, organic, bean-to-bar chocolate makers. Even our cocoa butter — a major component of all our desserts — is sourced from Pascati, India's first USDA Organic and Fairtrade compliant chocolate brand. Where we haven’t found ready-made solutions — such as plant-based white chocolate and heavy cream that are difficult to source — we have made them from scratch, in house, using ingredients (that are available to us) and a little imagination.

Sometimes, all of this comes at a cost… through the years, we’ve had to tweak recipes and stay on our toes to do justice to these incredible gifts of nature. It’s all worth it though; in the end, we make sure that each decadent bite from Ode To Gaia weighs only on your palate, and not your conscience or heart.

More articles