Granted that the products on display are unadulterated and organic, the Khalis Food Market has virtually taken the upper-middle and the affluent classes of the city by storm. That is, if the 4th edition of the event held recently in Greens Hall, off MM Alam Rd, is anything to go by.
There were massive crowds inside the venue which had also spilt over on the road outside. Cars upon cars were lined on the road, with no decent parking lot in sight.
The market opened at 11 in the morning and closed at around 6 Sunday last.
In recent times, unprocessed and natural food substances have been recognised as having maximum health benefits. By selecting synthetic and preservative-free food items one can help one’s health issues and boost up levels of energy.
The Khalis Food Market is primarily an initiative of Asma Shah and her friend and partner Mahrukh Beg. Talking to TNS, Asma said, "Many of the villages surrounding Lahore are forced to use drain water to irrigate their crops, because the fresh water from canal or tube wells is either short on supply or high on tarrif. The drain water which previously carried only domestic sewage now contains waste from hospitals and industries. This water contains metals such as mercury, lead and chromium which can potentially lead to kidney and liver diseases as well as many cancers.
"The vegetables thus produced are detrimental to health. Period."
There was a large lineup of food stalls with seating facility at the venue. One started the round with a lovely sight of herbs on display in beautiful clay pots. The leaves of aloe vera, iceberg and bay in varying prices is a brainchild of Sadia Waqar, a Home Economics graduate in 1975, whose label Organic Delights offered a delectable array of products ranging from mango garlic chutney to pickles, sauces and juices.
Sadia’s almond and elaichi drink cost Rs400, a tad too high by common standards, but was an instant hit with the visitors. Available in limited stocks, the item had been sold out during the early part of the morning.
There were a number of vendors of pure and raw honey such as Mian Ji. Gluten-free bread also seemed to be a favourite item and got picked up by people in dozens. Herbal tea, soups and coffees did well too, as did the Ostrich meat stall.
Recommended by today’s nutritionists as a meat which is not just easy to digest but is also a great way of reducing body fat and cholesterol, Ostrich sandwiches and burgers had but limited fans, perhaps because the people weren’t too familiar with it.
The dairy products’ stalls offered a variety of cheese including Ricotta which is an Italian delicacy with a mild sweet creamy milk flavour, the lumpy white cottage cheese, desi makhan and curds guaranteeing 100 per cent fresh ingredients.
There was a wide range of desserts to choose from -- starting with Aysha Raja’s cute little stall that offered brownies as well as books on home cooking. Closer to the entrance, a group of ladies were selling home-made halwas and panjeeris. You could also variously find cupcakes, pies, cakes, truffles, crepes, macaroons and cookies.
To deal with the sudden pangs of hunger, Barbeque food stalls had been set up by Charcoal Grill, Lebanese Donor kebabs and Bake & Grill that saw frequent buyers.
Fresh-from-the-oven rotis, hunter-beef sandwiches, freshly baked lamb and chicken kebabs were other items that were a riot.
The prices was an issue but not much, as most people who came to the Khalis Food Market seemed to have a fair idea of what to expect. For their part, the owners said they were looking to regulate the prices.
A fitness stall that proposed a "holistic approach" towards exercise attracted the middle-aged in particular who were duly making appointments with the Yoga instructors at the venue.
Organic henna stalls were thronged by ladies who wanted to check out the mehndi which was said to be devoid of any addictives, metallic salts, PPD or Ammonia.
"The [Khalis] Food Market is a wonderful trend," said Maleeha who also claimed to have visited the market’s earlier editions. "I’m glad the Lahoris are turning towards healthy eating. We had a great time mingling with friends and buying jams, desi eggs, organic floor, pomegranate juice and various dips."
For Raza Abbas, well in his twenties, "I managed to get a wide range of chutneys, vegetables, apple and Blueberry pie from Piecycle and a peanut butter brownie from Madchef for my mom."
Eventually, the concept of ‘organic’ seems to be coming in vogue big-time. And, private ventures such as the Khalis Food Market must be credited for that. Unfortunately, it’s only the small-scale farmers who are into organic farming. The Khalis team, as Asma says, regularly visits the farms for inspection.
"Up till now there’s no formal way to test products in the labs," she admitted. "But we hope to come up with a collective set of rules and regulations in our meeting scheduled to take place soon. There can be confusions and mixed opinions in this regard but at least the activity is getting noticed through good word of mouth and lots of advertising on social media."