A Chennai woman is on a quest to revitalize ancient grains. Sanjeeta KK’s startup, OGMO Foods, makes ready-to-eat breakfast and snack mixes from minor millets and mappillai samba red rice.
Everyone wishes to have a corporate career with a large salary and a good work-life balance. However, some, such as Sanjeeta KK, founder of Chennai-based OGMO Foods, believe otherwise.
Sanjeeta, 52, had to leave her well-paying corporate career due to a medical issue and was compelled to take a 10-year hiatus. During the vacation, she decided to turn her passion for cuisine into a full-time job.
Sanjeeta explains, “I started my new path with a food blog called ‘Lite Bite,’ which provided me a lot of options going ahead. I experimented with innovative food styling while developing new recipes for my blog. Since then, I’ve worked on various prominent companies and television ads.”
Her route to a new job as a food stylist was not simple, as Sanjeeta says she practiced caution while taking on major undertakings.
“But as I gained expertise, I got more confident, and above all, it made me happy,” she continues.
Her experience as a food blogger and stylist inspired her to launch her own business. Sanjeeta says she always wanted to establish something unique that will be good for the society.
“That tremendous desire to make a difference drove me to create OGMO Foods, which specializes in value-added healthy food products,” Sanjeeta explains.
OGMO stands for Organic Move, and the brand was launched in 2018 in an effort to bring some of the lost ancient grains back to the table.
Sanjeeta, who had a strong desire to eat properly and cook with locally produced veggies and superfoods, wanted to incorporate her healthy eating philosophy into her company.
Sanjeeta describes her notion as a start-up with the purpose of generating unique culinary items that will benefit the community.
She says, “We founded OGMO to share our enthusiasm for healthy eating through plant-based food products. We’re also on a quest to bring some of our lost indigenous grains back into the mainstream.”
Minor millets, such as small millet, barnyard millet, and foxtail millet, are used in OGMO’s ready-to-eat breakfast and snack mixes. According to Sanjeeta, minor millets are traditional grains that are both healthy and gluten-free.
“They are a lost group of grains that were widely farmed and eaten in ancient times.”
In addition, unlike rice and wheat crops, which require a lot of soil fertility, water, and fertilizers, millets grow well in arid areas.
“However, lengthier cooking times, a lack of value-addition, and a lack of marketing assistance led to a fall in millet consumption,” she says.
“These millets are alkaline in nature and anti acidic,” explains Sanjeeta.
They are also beneficial in treating red blood cells and avoiding Type 2 diabetes.
Their goods are manufactured from whole grains and are lightly processed, with no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
Aside from minor millets, OGMO Foods also sells items manufactured from an ancient grain known as ‘Mapppillai samba red rice.’
Mapppillai samba rice is a red rice varietal found solely in Tamil Nadu.
OGMO’s goods include munchies made from minor millets, several types of granola mixes, idli and dosa premixes made from minor millets and Mappillai samba rice, health mixes, and energy bars.
According to Sanjeeta, OGMO’s overnight millet is the first of its type in the world. The company also sells whole grains and flours made from millets, and mappillai samba rice.
She says, “In addition, we just introduced a line of food for children called OGMO Foods Jr.”
Sanjeeta obtains millets from a tiny agricultural community in a sleepy area near Cheyyur, Tamil Nadu.
Aside from creating nutritious value-added goods, we’ve been on a quest to help the local farmers who grow these grains.
“In addition, we are lucky to have been able to provide employment possibilities for rural women at our factory and vegetable farm “Sanjeeta adds.
“Being an entrepreneur has its own set of problems,” she adds, while speaking about the difficulties.
Krishnakumar, Sanjeeta’s husband, who has worked as an IT consultant for over 25 years, supervises the company’s operations and production.
Sanjeeta KK expresses gratitude for having a great network of family and friends that support her.
She says, “My spouse is my rock, and my two children have always been there to cheer me on. My father, a doctor and a social worker, had a significant effect on me. I am following his concept of making a difference in the lives of people by doing something beneficial to society.”