DiasporaCo. It is changing the way we buy spices. Here’s how

When it comes to cologne, you might not immediately think of kitchen spices.

However, the spice trade played an important role in attracting colonists to different parts of the world. Spices were no less than an economic stronghold for whoever controlled these flavorful herbs, roots, and seeds.

This made India a prime target for victory.

Although the spice trade in India dates back to the 15th century, the arrival of the explorer Vasca da Gama in the Indian coastal state of Kerala in 1498 marked the beginning of European competition to dominate the industry.

Often as a result of violent struggle, the control of spices was transferred from the farmers to the European powers of the time.

Even today, spices are still a major economic force.

According to data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the total trade value of the spice industry was $3.61 billion in 2020 alone, and the US is the leading importer of spices globally.

Although it may be hundreds of years later, the effects of the colonial spice trade still remain.

Fortunately, DiasporaCo. He is doing something about this. They ethically produce the highest quality spices, pay farmers a fair trade fee, and respect the cultures in which these different seasons are served.

Spices you get from Diaspora. It may be unlike anything you’ve ever tried. Read on to find out why.

DiasporaCo. Founder Sana Jhaveri Khadri was born and raised in post-colonial Mumbai.

After studying food justice in college, Javeri Kadri worked in marketing at a San Francisco grocery store called Bi-Rite.

In 2016, she got an idea.

Onion trend

“Turmeric was suddenly everywhere, but the crap they were selling in the US was nothing like the turmeric I grew up with in India,” says Javeri Kadri. “I started researching the spice business and found out that most of it is turmeric [in the U.S.] It was a mix that had no place or respect for the people who grew up.”

It was this sense of space and respect for spice makers that led Javeri Khadri to return to India on a 7-month trip to learn what she could about the spice business.

Shades of colonialism

She was shocked to discover that not much had changed in 400 years.

As Diaspora Co. website, “Farmers got no money, spices changed 10 times before reaching the consumer, and the last spice on your shelf was often an old, dusty shade.”

So in 2017 at 23, Javeri Kadri founded DiasporaCo. Starting with just one spice – Pragati Turmeric – the company now sources 30 individual spices from 150 farms in India and Sri Lanka.

Building a fair spice trade

The goal is simple: to be a leader in building a more equitable spice trade. Javeri Kadri believes her experience as a queer immigrant of color makes her a prime candidate to do so.

“My history and spices give me a unique perspective that I have a personal connection to the country we’re in,” she says.

Jhaveri Khadri’s role is far from ‘just’ an office job.

A source of regeneration

“Every year I go on a two-month scouting trip to India and Sri Lanka, where I look for farmers who produce the most delicious spices,” she says. “We work with family-run farms that specialize in innovative agricultural practices.”

Regenerative agriculture involves farming and grazing, which contributes to biodiversity by restoring soil, sequestering carbon and improving the water cycle.

Rigorous research

“Each spice takes months to years to source, which depends on rigorous laboratory testing, physical presence and, of course, a lot of tasting,” she says.

Part of that rigorous testing includes the Spice Research Institute of India, which focuses on resource management, crop production and improvement, and safe spices.

Commitment to excellence and integrity

The result? Bringing the freshest, most aromatic and farmer-connected spices to your kitchen.

“Take our Aranya Black Pepper, for example,” says Javeri Kadri. “It’s more aromatic and floral than most black peppercorns you find on the grocery store shelf. It really makes such a difference in everyday cooking.

So, how do you ensure fairness and equal exchange in the spices you buy?

Learn

“It’s all about education,” Javeri Kadri said. “Read the companies you buy spices from.”

She says there are three questions you should ask yourself when shopping for spices.

  1. Is it clear how the company originates?
  2. Is their supply chain clearly defined?
  3. How much do they pay their farmers?

“If the answer is no, you’re probably not buying from a company that hopes to build equity in the spice industry,” says Javeri Kadri.

Invest in high quality spices

Also, don’t be afraid to spend a little more if you can afford it.

“Slather it on your regular spices,” she adds.

Quality, fair trade spices can cost more than the generic brands you’re used to on the grocery store shelf.

“In a system where fair trade is only a 15 percent fee, we pay a living wage,” said Javeri Kadri.

Far from being a liability, she sees this as an investment in the future.

“We are proud to pay our farming partners an average of 6 times the commodity price,” added Javeri Kadri. It supports “leadership and land stewardship that builds climate resilience and more sustainable food systems.”

“One of the reasons I started Diaspora Company was to bring pride and the spice business to my home country,” says Javeri Kadri.

In this sense, the diaspora. It is as much a spice company as it is a platform for South Asian spice trading communities to tell their stories of “liberation, struggle and diaspora through food”.

For Javeri Kadri, it is a community of deep connection with culture, heritage and resource.


Crystal Hosho is a mother, author and longtime yoga practitioner. She has taught in private studios, gyms and one-on-one sessions in Los Angeles, Thailand and the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares self-care strategies in online courses at SimpleWildFree.com. Follow her on Instagram.

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