Jaipur-based Preeti Rathore launched Amritatva, a startup that sells products made with oyster mushrooms to provide gluten and lactose-free alternatives to people across India.
How unfortunate and heartbreaking it would be if the mother is a baker and the son has a gluten intolerance. That is what happened with Jaipur’s Preeti Rathore. She was into the baking business and her husband ran a restaurant when their son was born. And from an early age itself, the son was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. It was heartbreaking for Preeti to watch her son crave the cakes that were being baked at home, which he cannot eat. So she stopped baking cakes at home.
Preeti joined her husband in the restaurant business. And that is when they decided to branch out to cultivate oyster mushrooms. “This seemed a good idea, as in the process, I would be reaching out to others who were looking for healthy alternatives and couldn’t eat gluten-based foods,” Preeti says.
“Ever since my son was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I had been on the lookout for healthy food options,” says Preeti. “When I got to know about oyster mushrooms, I researched more and then, following a training course from Solan in Himachal Pradesh, found that there were three methods of cultivation that were not only safe for the environment but also toxin-free. We began the cultivation of these oyster mushrooms in Jaipur with the use of bio enzymes.”
And thus in 2019, started Amirtatva – a brand that is engaged in the cultivation, processing and sale of products made of Oyster mushrooms. Preeti says, “Oyster mushrooms involve vertical farming, which is much more sustainable compared to traditional horizontal farming methods. Second, the mushrooms are cheap and can be afforded by all target groups. The third is that they are abundant in nutrition.”
Oyster mushrooms which get their name from their appearance are rich in protein, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, Vitamin B, and essential amino acids. They also have negligible amounts of cholesterol and fat.
But the main challenge that Preeti and her husband experienced during their business is the shelf life of the mushrooms. They solved this by offering dried oyster mushrooms and powder of the dried form. They manufactured seasoning powders from oyster mushrooms. And also various products like healthy drinks with the dried form of the fungi added in, sprinklings, garnishings, and even powders that could simply be added to any food product to enhance the nutritional quotient.
The products range from Rs 250 for a 200 g all-purpose seasoning, to Rs 300 for a 100 g packet of dried oyster mushrooms. From selling in the local market, they have now moved a long way and shifted their business online. And employs a few women to process and dry the mushrooms, thus providing the women with livelihood as well.
“When we started out, there wasn’t much awareness about this superfood. However, we had a zeal in us. We thought, ‘If one packet can sell, a bigger number can too’.” Preeti says.
Credits: The Better India
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