Have you ever had a meal so delicious that you licked the plate clean and wondered if you could eat the plate too? Well, one day you might. But for now you can rejoice in the knowledge that you can eat the spoon at least!
Yes, edible cutlery has entered the Indian market, thanks to Hyderabad-based researcher Narayana Peesapaty’s innovation. His frustration with mounting disposable plastic ware, concern for water shortage, inequitable energy distribution and consumption, and increased rural to urban influx gave birth to Bakeys Foods Private Limited in 2010. The enterprise specialises in making sorghum (jowar) based range of edible spoons, sporks (fork-like spoons), and chopsticks.
Peesapaty, 49, got this brilliant idea in 2004 while on a flight where he had to use plastic cutlery. It had him thinking of an alternative. Chucking his job as a researcher in the Institute for International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, Peesapaty started working on his innovation in 2006. In his Ted Talk in Vellore, Peesapaty shared his concern over depleting levels of ground water, due to the surplus farming of paddy which required 60 per cent more water than crops such as sorghum. “I export chopsticks to Japan which imports bamboo chopsticks from China. China is facing huge deforestation problem as patches are cleared off for bamboo farming to meet Japan’s demand,” he informs.
His innovative step has a threefold benefit. It helps farmers return to sorghum farming reducing their migration to urban areas, consumes less water and energy in cutlery-making, and reduces the toxic effects of plastic cutlery on people’s health and environment.
Peesapaty offers spoons – simple, dessert and soup variants – in different flavours and colours. He uses vegetable pulp from spinach, beetroot and carrot to produce tempting products. His spoons come in neutral, sweet and savoury flavours. Sorghum, being a tighter cereal, lends toughness to the cutlery which can be used up to 20 minutes into the meals. Even if one doesn’t wish to eat the cutlery, it is biodegradbale and takes only three days to decompose on its own.