Think "organic produce" and Afghanistan does not spring to mind. Todd Darling wants to change that.
Darling, the founder of online grocery store Homegrown Foods (www.homegrownfoods.com.hk), has spent years trekking to some of the world's most exotic and dangerous locations in search of unique organic products. In 2014, that quest took him to war-torn Afghanistan, a land that had been bypassed by the chemical agricultural revolutions of the 1970s. Afghan farmers never had the oppor-tunity to use chemical fertilisers, meaning that the nation's products are organic by default.
With the help of the Hummingfish Foundation, a Hong Kong NGO that nurtures sustainable businesses in developing Asian countries, Darling went about sourcing products in the hope that the farmers would continue growing legally exportable crops instead of switching to controversial ones, such as opium poppies.
"Our travels to Afghanistan were eye-opening experiences," says Darling. "Learning of the hardships farmers faced in a conflict country and the passion that remained towards their environment, wildlife and farm products was very inspiring."
New produce from Afghanistan now available at Homegrown Foods' online store includes honey (HK$68/120 grams), mulberry syrup (HK$68/120 grams), walnuts (HK$68/100 grams), pistachios (HK$78/150 grams) and red and rose raisins (HK$78/200 grams).