I firmly believe the average person consumes considerably more food than the body actually needs to thrive. CLEAN, the other business I run, is all about detoxing or cleansing the body, and the power of the ancient wisdom around fasting or eating less in order to allow your gut to do its other job, namely to maintain a healthy immune system, is highly underestimated in my opinion. It would also mean that overall we would consume less as a species, which wouldn’t do our beautiful planet any harm at all.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Miguel Gil. During a decades-long career in the field of international business development, ORGANIC INDIA CEO Miguel Gil learned of the company through his long-time friend, author Dr. Alejandro Junger, founder of CLEAN. When the ORGANIC INDIA founders decided to partner with CLEAN, Gil spearheaded the integration of the two companies, and soon after took over as CEO at ORGANIC INDIA USA.
Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us about what brought you to this specific career path?
After many years in the technology industry I found myself reflecting on an inner void I was somehow never able to fill, despite my successes. I always felt that there was another more fulfilling, more meaningful path ahead of me that would allow me to be of service to a greater cause. Despite contrary belief, businesses can operate as conscious organizations, with an unwavering commitment and focus on a triple bottom line approach — where profit, people and planet are fully respected in everything you do and every decision you make. In joining Organic India my long-awaited calling had finally come, with a glorious opportunity to truly be of service.
Can you tell us why the company was founded?
After meeting in India, the company founders, Bharat Mitra and Bhavani Lev, observed the widespread environmental degradation that was the result of decades of industrialized agriculture in that country. They also learned of the remarkable health benefits of Tulsi, a.k.a “Holy Basil,” India’s most revered plant. By partnering with farmers, they devised methods to recover ancient bio-regenerative farming practices to achieve organic certification for small farms and bring Tulsi to broad audiences in the form of herbal tea infusions — this effort also brought rural communities out of poverty, allowing producers to recover self-sufficiency and dignity. Prior to their efforts, the idea of “organic” was unknown in India, as were herb-based teas — now ORGANIC INDIA is the largest herbal tea producer in India and has introduced organic and bio-regenerative cultivation methods to that country.
What was the original vision of the company?
The original vision of the company was to be a vehicle of consciousness in the global market by creating a holistic sustainable business modality, which inspires, promotes and supports well-being and respect for all beings and for Mother Nature. Our founders believed that companies could be so much more than profit-driven machines — that companies could become “vehicles of consciousness,” bringing altruism to every step of the supply chain and functioning as a beneficial presence by contributing value to suppliers, employees, and consumers. The concept of “healthy, conscious living” can be applied not only to consumers, but to the environment, supply chains, and social and economic systems.
Is the company under your leadership today still operating under the original vision?
Yes, more than ever the company is aligned with the founders’ “vehicle of consciousness” vision. The company’s growth is directly tied to adhering to this altruistic business model — occasionally we are challenged to innovate ways to stay congruent with this model within a highly competitive marketplace, but new strategies and methods always emerge that serve to carry the vision and mission forward.
What’s the mission of the company today?
Our mission remains the same one defined by our founders: to be a trustworthy and innovative global leader in providing genuine organic products in service to a community dedicated to healthy, conscious living.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
Our vision and mission have driven innovation at every level — from an altruistic supply chain to India’s first LEED Platinum certified natural food production facility, to the evolution of a business model that contributes value at every step of the product life. In terms of farming practices, we have pushed beyond “sustainable” to regenerative agriculture that results in environmental recovery. Socially, this model has led to positive social, economic, and cultural change for our farmer partners. Proving the profitability of a business model based on love and consciousness — this alone sets ORGANIC INDIA apart. The fact that we are managing all aspects of cultivation, processing, packaging, etc., assures customers that there are no “unknowns” — no middlemen, no mysteries. This loving attention to every detail of the product life sets ORGANIC INDIA apart from other natural food businesses.
You write that some of your products aim to “help to be a living embodiment of love and consciousness in action”? Can you explain what this means?
As far as our Psyllium Pre & Probiotic Fiber product goes, we have innovated to bring an organic and multi-functional product to support gut microbiome health — a product that is versatile and easy to incorporate into one’s lifestyle makes healthy, conscious living more accessible. Prebiotic fiber, Ayurvedic herbs and heat-stable probiotics promote overall wellbeing.
Tulsi, our foundational herb, is a classic Ayurvedic adaptogen, meaning that it promotes a healthy stress response. Given the times we’re living in, offering a natural, wholesome product to aid bodies and minds in adapting to environmental, physical, and emotional stress speaks to the heart of our vision and mission — to be an embodiment of love and consciousness in action. Our product benefits take that vision out of “abstraction” to direct benefit to the consumer. Intention is everything, but it must translate into the tangible.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive?
I would encourage my colleagues to be bold and keep pushing product development boundaries, committing significant R&D dollars into finding more innovative and appealing formats, in which our customer communities can enjoy carefully produced organic natural products which encourage preventative health. I would also encourage my fellow CEOs to commit to a triple bottom line strategy when running their businesses, simultaneously focusing on profit, people and the planet — this will inevitably lead you in the right direction.
How has the company’s success helped to bring goodness to the world?
Our founders set out to partner with farmers to grow Tulsi against a backdrop of catastrophic environmental and economic devastation from the “Green Revolution” in India — the misguided attempt to industrialize that country’s agriculture. Local ecologies, right down to water supplies, had been destroyed, and farmers had spiraled into poverty due to the failure of non-native seed hybrids. It was initially a tough sell to engage farmer partners as they had a deep distrust of foreigners at this point. But finally, the first farmer signed on — then the next season, another. When asked why he had entered partnership with ORGANIC INDIA, the second farmer said, “Because I have seen the return of birds I haven’t seen since I was a child.” There are now 3000-plus farmer partners in rural communities that have gained new economic independence. ORGANIC INDIA has also provided education and healthcare to these communities.
When COVID struck in the US and communities went on lockdown, ORGANIC INDIA USA mobilized to offer Immune Support Kits which included Turmeric and Tulsi Tea Infusions — full size packages. We distributed 5,000 kits free of charge. We have accepted the call to address systemic racism and are in the process of developing unconscious bias trainings for everyone in the organization, from warehouse workers to the Board of Directors. The ORGANIC INDIA Board of Directors matched donations reported by employees as well, with funds going to organizations such as The Color of Change and The National Association of Black Journalists. The company’s success put us in a position to launch these proactive initiatives that are completely distinct from profit-driven efforts.
Our LEED Platinum certified factory in Lucknow, India sets a new manufacturing standard in terms of reduced carbon footprint, waste management, and offsetting the environmental impacts of industry.
Many of our products have achieved cult followings because of the health benefits — customers say that our tea infusions make them “feel better.” Because we operate from a fundamental “service” perspective, we are committed to adding value at every step to the ultimate benefit of our customer community dedicated to healthy, conscious living.
What are your “things I wish someone told me before I became CEO” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
How cold the winters are and how warm the summers are in Colorado! I would have arrived a little better prepared! And to keep my Jack Russel terrier away from the cute prairie dog warrens — I found out that’s where rattle snakes hang out!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊
I would start by encouraging a movement where everyone consumed one of their three meals a day as a liquid meal. I firmly believe the average person consumes considerably more food than the body actually needs to thrive. CLEAN, the other business I run, is all about detoxing or cleansing the body, and the power of the ancient wisdom around fasting or eating less in order to allow your gut to do its other job, namely to maintain a healthy immune system, is highly underestimated in my opinion. It would also mean that overall we would consume less as a species, which wouldn’t do our beautiful planet any harm at all.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram, Twitter: @Organicindiausa