COVID-19 has changed people's lifestyles, or at least compelled people to opt for immunity boosters and health food to either beat the virus or overcome post-COVID complications.
In fact, doctors are now prescribing nutritious food and a balanced diet to stay fit and healthy in a pandemic situation.
Thanks to a number of outlets, online or offline, having pure natural products or a range of health beverages, a section of "health-conscious" clients in the urban areas are either making beelines to these stores or booking a greater stock of such immunity boosters.
Take for example, Guwahati-based start-up Aromica Tea, which promotes health and wellness through organic and herbal tea blends, and also offers a customised range as well to suit the taste buds of some of its clientele.
Incepted three years back by Ranjit Baruah and Dolly Sharma Baruah, the startup offers as many as 60 varieties of teas that incorporate health benefits of natural herbs and ingredients.
"Tea as a beverage has always been popular but there was a need for a dedicated tea outlet offering various varieties of tea. We have found a good response and our risk of offering only tea (60 varieties) found patrons and we saw that people were willing to try out different flavours such as Blue Tea, Bhut Jolokia Tea, Roselle tea, different green teas," Ranjit Baruah says.
"Health consciousness is at an all-time high now, quite understandably given the pandemic situation, with both young and old willing to try out the new flavours. This makes us believe that people in Guwahati are open to experiments, and provided a good drink, there are takers of varied teas," Baruah informs.
"Our camel milk tea, malai masala tea, tandoori tea and kesari tea are appreciated by people. Traditional Assamese teas such as Baan Bati tea, Seleka Chah, et al are quite popular," he says.
"This makes us confident of launching newer recipes of tea for people to enjoy," he adds.
The startup also has products that cater to several needs, including wellness, weight loss, skin care, and boosting immunity. The target customer is aged between 20-65 years, with a large percentage of them women.
Health consciousness is at an all-time high now, quite understandably given the pandemic situation. People in Guwahati are open to experiments, and provided a good drink, there are takers of varied teasOnline stores too are like a one-stop destination, offering an extensive range of pure, natural products.
Many offline stores too have stocked up more healthy food and beverages in their shelves. There are many which offer premium quality, unadulterated and authentic products to a niche segment.
"But not many can afford these products, particularly when income sources have been curbed by the pandemic situation. My daughter still craves junk food and aerated drinks. But now I have made a concerted effort to make her consume more fruit, meat and vegetables," says Rini Kalita, a homemaker.
At the start of the second wave of the virus, some NGOs have also done their bit to make urban people aware of locally-grown food as immunity boosters to combat the novel coronavirus.
Apart from sensitizing people on COVID-appropriate behaviour, some groups also educate people on the significance of building immunity by consuming chemical-free food to keep infections of any kind at bay.
"We do not need to buy costly supplements to stay fit when we can build immunity by consuming locally-grown chemical-free food which is rich in nutrients. The idea here is to offer people in the city locally available and affordable food," says Bandeep Dutta who runs an NGO, Satez Axom in the Ulubari area.
Satez Axom currently offers market linkage to over 500 farmers across the state.
"Our home delivery programme, Ghare Ghare Satez (through which we provide door-to-door supply of chemical-free products, fruit and vegetables), had to be aborted at the start of the first wave last year. However, we plan to revive the same in the coming months," Dutta said.
As it is, he says, "People in the rural areas do not need any supplements unlike their counterparts in the urban areas, where fresh, natural and pure food is a rare commodity. Our rural folk have been able to beat the virus or cope with it in a better way than people in the cities and towns."