Eat With Better is a plant-based packaged foods company headquartered in Mumbai which sells a ready-to-cook range of products made from raw, tender jackfruit. Their shelf stable, single-portion packs allow consumers across India to access preservative-free jackfruit as shreds or chunks.
Eat With Better sources their jackfruit from farmers in the Devgad district along the Konkan coast of Maharashtra. The jackfruit is cleaned, pre-cooked, and packed in a processing facility near the source. In their Original Jackfruit pack, the jackfruit, picked in its raw stage, retains its juicy and meaty texture while acting as a canvas for different flavours to be added to it. Other packs come with flavoured gravy mixes such as Vindaloo, Chettinad, and Tawa Fry. The idea behind choosing these flavour profiles is to display the versatility of this vegetable across multiple cuisines.
The idea to work with jackfruit first captured the interest of Karan Bajaj while he was looking to integrate more plant-based meat replacements into his diet. Karan’s previous job before launching Eat With Better was at TechnoServe, a non-profit that worked on building sustainable agricultural value chains. He put the project into execution when he met Keertida Phadke, a brand marketer-turned-chef with roots in Ratnagiri. Together, they launched Eat With Better in 2020 in the midst of the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic. Today, Eat With Better’s mission is to make jackfruit a more lucrative crop for farmers by making it a more desirable product for consumers.
Why We Love Eat with Better
- Hassle-free flavour – While we love jackfruit, cleaning it doesn’t rank high on our list of things we like to do. The tedious process has often led to the fruit being sidelined in the past. Eat With Better’s packs take away that hassle, and let us quickly whip up flavourful dishes.
- Versatility – Raw jackfruit has an inherently meaty texture and a neutral flavour that allows it to soak in the flavours of various spices. We enjoy being able to experiment with it in different recipes, from biryanis to curries.
- Low enviromental impact – Jackfruits grow wild, without any input of water or fertilizers, making them a perfect choice as low-impact foods. The size of the fruit (often over 7 kilos) as well the number of fruits a tree bears, sometimes up to a few hundred, means that jackfruit has the potential to feed large populations with minimum inputs.
- Efficient use of the fruit – Reports claim that ~70% of jackfruits in India go to waste, and if left unattended on trees, they fall and attract pests. Higher consumption of the fruit prevents waste, and would also supplement the income of farmers.
- Bringing back nostalgia – Many see the appeal of jackfruit as an alternative to meat due to its texture. For us, it’s also a chance to cook dishes we once ate during the summers along our tropical coasts.
Note from the Producer
We’re on a mission to make jackfruit great (again)! Native to India, jackfruit is newly being discovered as a local superfood. While most superfoods are notoriously expensive, carbon-intensive and unsustainable fads, jackfruit grows abundantly in India, its largest global producer. Not only is it super for us, it’s phenomenal for the plant too. Jackfruit is a drought-resistant crop that keeps the microclimate cool, and grows without any chemical fertilizers, making it naturally organic.
Unfortunately, nearly 70% of the jackfruit grown in India goes to waste each year because of scattered demand, lack of processing facilities, and other unacceptable reasons! We’re here to change that by bringing jackfruit to the market in the most easy-to-use, versatile format.
— Keertida Phadke & Karan Bajaj, Founders of Eat With Better
The Locavore Bite
TL Bite offers a glimpse into how a partner producer runs their operations, and reflects their core principles and values. The idea is to provide insights into their practices and highlight their positive efforts descriptively. We have identified seven key areas of assessment – origin and source of ingredients, composition and integrity of the products, workforce policies, production practices, community-related initiatives, approach towards preserving or celebrating traditional knowledge and the materials used in packaging. While this assessment may not be entirely comprehensive, we hope it helps you make an informed decision about why you might want to support them, and the ways in which to.
The information below offers you a snapshot of where Eat With Better stands on these parameters. We have put this together based on several rounds of conversation with Karan Bajaj and Keertida Phadke, the founders of Eat With Better. To understand the nature of their work, our founder Chef Thomas Zacharias undertook a three-day trip to the villages in Devgad district of southern Maharashtra where their jackfruit is sourced from. Click on a piece of the pie below to find out more.
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If you’re interested in finding out more about Eat with Better, read our interview with them here.
The Original Jackfruit
The pre-cooked raw jackfruit has a naturally meaty texture and a neutral taste with no sweetness, since it is harvested and processed before the sugars are formed, unlike the sweeter and stickier ripe jackfruit. You can opt to choose between shreds and chunks, both of which can be used in a range of recipes. Jackfruit is also inherently vegan, gluten-free, and low in calories.
This is a paid partnership with Eat with Better. We strive to keep the practices of a producer transparent and honest across all forms of partnerships.