The Altitude Store
by Ira Mukhoti
3 May 2010
For orders: www.thealtitudestore.com Emai: email@example.com Ph.: +91.98.1175.5222
Today my bi-monthly supply of organic produce has arrived and the owner and founder of The Altitude Store, Ayesha Grewal, who home-delivered my order herself, has just effortlessly tossed several kilos of dry goods onto my kitchen counter. Ayesha has agreed to stop by for a chat about The Altitude Store, her slickly run, rapidly expanding venture which started life as a Delhi-based online organic produce shop.
We begin by talking about how a Delhi girl like her came to be interested in a project which takes her for months on end to far flung villages in the Himalayas. Ayesha tells me that she has long had an interest in rural development in India and the ways in which profitability and social responsibility may co‐exist. Her aim is to offer small farmers, who farm organically in remote, inaccessible regions, an access to the lucrative city markets, which is why one third of the Altitude Store produce comes directly from the farmers themselves. Starting primarily in Uttarakhand, The Altitude Store now sources organic products from all over India.
India is poised for growth, Ayesha tells me. What we do now will determine whether or not this is an environmentally sustainable growth and a socially just development in which money also trickles back to the farmers.
“What’s not to like anyway?” asks Ayesha. “I spend three months in some village in the hills making apple juice in the orchards and winter in the farms of Rajasthan.” The image is irresistible and sitting in dusty Delhi on the eve of the hottest April in 20 years, I am charmed.
Having bought organic products for many years from other outlets, I am used to the dusty and khadi‐encrusted style of organic shops and was therefore shocked the first time I ordered from Ayesha’s online store, which opened in 2009. The product list is extensive, the site wonderfully clutter free and simple. The follow-up and delivery is impeccable and resolutely "un‐Indian" in its timeliness.
The online site has proved so popular that a small retail shop has now opened in Shankti Niketan Market. Ayesha has also started other initiatives such as an occasional organic farmers market, an organic vegetable basket delivery system and a creamery which uses organic milk to make a variety of cheeses. Products available online and at the shop include a range of exotic products such as rocket, zucchini, asparagus, ginger candy, brown rice, mozzarella and cracked pepper cheese, to name but a very few out of the 300 products. And for those who don’t know their rocket from a satellite, there is also an endless variety of wheat, rise, pulses, sugar, soaps, oils.
After a final promise to make me her New York inspired brie and asparagus omelette, all made with The Altitude Store's ingredients, Ayesha leaves. A business‐woman with a conscience, an eco‐friendly venture which sparkles with efficiency and organic products which are delicious as well as wholesome, my house is suddenly fizzing with possibilities and I walk into the kitchen, ready to cook up a storm.