In the August Company of Monika Manchanda

The August Co. is proud to have an insightful conversation with Monika Manchanda (@monikamanchanda), a culinary expert in the food industry and the Chief Culinary Officer at the @livealtlife, about how sustainability plays an important role in culinary life as well as clothing. Most of us tend to overlook the minuscule opportunities that we as mindful consumers could do to live a much more sustainable life. 

Looking at the consumer point of view, we always end up consuming more than we need. Shouldn’t we be mindful before buying anything?

“That’s where most of us make mistakes and it happens to all of us. I mean we should think about what we are eating, how much do we need. Even while buying groceries and vegetables, or when ordering at a restaurant, think about how much do we need or how much will my family eat. There are times when we go all and order, but there also times when we dump whole capsicums away. As a consumer, we can start thinking beyond food and just cooked food wastage. There is so much food that goes into the bin while getting one dish cooked. We throw away the peels, the stems, which can be utilised. Remember how our grandmothers used to cook. They used every part of a vegetable and made delicious dishes out of them. But that has changed now with all our fancy cooking and the notion of using only the part of the vegetable required for the dish and throwing the rest away. That was not the way to cook before.”

Very true ! I think it’s time to go back to our roots and the way our grandmothers used to cook. Since I cook by myself, every time I’m chopping up cauliflower, I remember my grandmother’s words and the way she used to tell me to use the stems: “Cut it up and use it!”

Yes, I remember when my mum used to make Danthal ki Sabzi, she used to utilise every part and make many nutritious dishes. Instead nowadays we sadly dump most of it. There is so much effort put into farming of vegetables.  Putting back most of the waste vegetables into the ground acts as nutrition for the soil. Likewise I think  consumers need to think of how to slow down the process of buying any product and utilizing them to the fullest potential.

Being an avid reader yourself, what books do you recommend?

Oh I read a lot of books! I recommend “The Psychology of Money”. It’s a fabulous read! It’s for everyone who wants to understand money and it goes beyond it. It shows how the mind thinks about greed, happiness and how we are entitled to money and it opens up the mind to many things. 

Another book I recommend is “Wild Fermentation”. It’s about fermentation in food practises. Fermentation not only increases the flavour and nutrition of the food but it also improves your digestive and immune system.

Apart from this, in fiction, I read Avni Doshi’s book (Burnt Sugar). It’s a very nice and well written book. It has a little sad story line. So, if you don’t mind reading such books, this is one for you.

Last question- you’ve been an IT consultant, then you’ve had your own startup, you’ve been doing so many things. What piece of advice would you give to The August Company?

You’re doing awesome work! I like the way you think about sustainability. Keep doing that and keep at it when things go bad. There are definitely days that go bad. Just keep doing what you’re doing and you will reach there.