Frequently asked questions:

Turmeric 101

What makes your turmeric so special?

Our turmeric is grown from organically farmed, heirloom seeds, licensed by the Indian Institute of Spice Research. Every year it is freshly milled upon harvest.

We like to use tomatoes as an analogy for how special our turmeric is. Most spices you find in the grocery store today are the equivalent of an industrially grown, off-season tomato—grown to outlast trucking and storage over flavor and quality. Our approach to spices is like choosing the peak-season heirloom tomato bought directly from the farmer.

To this end, we are dedicated to creating a new supply chain for spices centering four things:

  1. Heirloom seeds and sustainable farming - including working with our partner farms towards organic certification and assisting them both financial and logistically.

  2. Highest quality - ensuring same-year freshness, creating and monitoring processing and milling standards to prevent contamination, and lab testing every single batch that is imported before releasing them for sale, if at all.

  3. Direct trade - cutting out all middle men and ensuring that every member of our supply chain is making a living wage, which includes paying our partner farms up to 6x the commodity price for their spices.

  4. Building community and celebrating origins - we are dedicated to sharing the food culture, stories and knowledge of our farmers, our origins and our community members. Equity extends to who we give a seat at the table, and we’re bringing the whole fam with us.

When was my turmeric harvested and milled? When does it expire?

All orders placed between August 2017 - May 2018:

Harvested - February 2017

Milled - August 2017

Best By - February 2020

All orders placed after May 2018:

Harvested - February 2018

Milled - March 2018

Best By - February 2021

Turmeric stays freshest and retains its potency best when stored in glass, thus our jarred packaging. So—if you’ve bought a 2 lb bag, we recommend you transfer it to a large glass jar if you’ve had it for more than a few months. But fear not! Even if you snooze on it and leave it in it’s bag, you’re still sitting on the most potent and fresh turmeric this side of the Pacific.

Why is direct trade important?

The commodity market price for 1 kilogram of turmeric in India is about 70 cents (recorded on Sept 28th 2018). At the time of writing this, on Amazon, you can buy 1 kilogram of turmeric for about $35. That's a 50x markup, on par with pharmaceuticals, movie theater popcorn and millennial wellness tonics.

Our minimum price paid to a farmer is $3.8 per kilogram which puts our markup at roughly 12-20x. With that markup, we pay every single member of our team from truck drivers to operations manager to co-packer what we consider to be a living wage - this usually far exceeds the very low industry standards. We could contract out our co-packing, fulfilment and warehousing but closely monitoring every aspect of our supply chain and putting money directly into the hands of people and not corporations, even if this is significantly more expensive is very important to us. We also pay back a percentage of all our profits to the Indian Institute of Spice Research towards their research work in sustainable spice agriculture.

Most US-based spice wholesalers are able to sell their turmeric at about $6-8 per kilogram. The price of direct trade and sustainably farmed spices are significantly greater than that. As we grow, it's been important for us to recognize how to accept and let go of the fact that we will never be able to match those prices, because in choosing to pay our producer and every link in our supply chain really well, we are choosing equity, over and over again. We are setting the new standard for spices and we hope you’ll join us.

Are you organically certified?

Our partner farms are in year two of the three-year organic certification process, licensed by Aditi Organic Certifications Pvt. Ltd. in accordance with the Indian National Programme for Organic Production Standards. Our partner farms are technically allowed to use the term “Organically Farmed” since their certification was issued for “Production” but they are not yet allowed to say “Certified Organic” until December 2019. As a result, our products, whilst grown on farms that have been “Organically Farmed” for 5+ years, will not be USDA “Certified Organic” until at least December 2019. We’re so grateful to our customers for joining us in supporting our partner farms as they take on this long and arduous process.

Is the turmeric tested for presence of heavy metals, mold, volatile oil and curcumin content?

Every batch of turmeric we import is tested for all of the above by Columbia Food Laboratories in Portland, Oregon. We don’t release anything for sale until we’ve received these test results and our turmeric is cleared. In addition to this, our turmeric is dye tested and organically fumigated by the Spice Board of India in order to pass their inspection and clear it for export. As a member of the SBI, we are subject to their rigorous standards as premier exporters, in addition to FDA’s import standards and the California Dept. of Public Health’s industrial manufacturing standards.

How is the turmeric dried, processed and milled?

Our turmeric is steamed immediately after the harvest to prevent spoilage, rotting and preserve nutrient content. This process is considered inferior to raw processing, which retains on average - 1-1.5% more of the curcumin content. However, raw processing is very difficult to safely execute on a medium-large scale (for context - our farmers are processing 22 metric tons at a time) and the likelihood that mud and dirt will end up in the final raw processed turmeric is high, so we are unable to raw process at this time. That being said, steaming is considered significantly better than the conventional method of boiling, which is what a majority of spice farmers and processing units do. Whilst boiling the fingers is quick and cheap, it severely lowers the nutritional properties of the turmeric. According to the Indian Institute of Spice Research, steaming turmeric is their highest standard and recommendation for commercial and industrial farmers.

After steaming the turmeric is sun-dried on plastic tarps in the field, and then taken to the local mill for polishing and grinding. Our partner farmers clean all the milling machinery to ensure that there is no contamination with previous mill runs, grind our turmeric and then clean the machinery again before the next mill run. This takes 12x the time that a regular milling would take, but is vital to make sure that our single origin turmeric isn’t blended with others, even on accident. One of our biggest goals for 2019 is to work with our partner farms to establish our own cooperatively-owned mill. Stay tuned on that!

What are the health benefits of turmeric?

Our turmeric contains 4.7% curcumin, which is widely recognized to be a powerful anti-inflammatory compound, as well as having antioxidant, antimicrobial and arminative (preventing formation of and easing discomfort from abdominal gas) effects.

The curcumin in turmeric is best absorbed by our bodies when taken alongside black pepper and a healthy fat. We interpret that as a pinch of black pepper and a teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil for every teaspoon of turmeric we use to maximize curcumin’s bioavailability to us!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

But what do I even do with turmeric?

Put it in everything. In September 2018 we published our first zine full of turmeric recipes. You can find it in our shop here. We have even more suggestions for you in our journal and on Pinterest.


 Turmeric Harvest 2018; Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

Turmeric Harvest 2018; Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

Shipping & RETURNS

Where do you ship to?

USA and Canada! For more information on our shipping costs, please visit our Shipping 101 guide.

We also ship via Amazon Prime. For more information on our decision to sell on Amazon, scroll down to our Values FAQs

When will my order ship?

We package and ship orders on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so if you place an order on a Friday for example, it won’t be shipped until the following Tuesday. An email confirmation is sent to your inbox as soon as we package and ship your order.

What is your return policy?

At Diaspora Co., our goal is to provide our customers with the highest quality of goods. We want you to be happy with your turmeric, so we strive to make sure our return policies reflect that.

Since we cannot resell any powdered turmeric that’s already been shipped to you for sanitary reasons, we’re unable to accept returns on our jars, tins, and bags of turmeric, or pickles. But don’t worry—we’re here to help! If there was an error with your order, please contact info@diasporaco.com within 30 days of your purchase. If you are dissatisfied with your turmeric in any way, don’t hesitate to reach out to the same address within 30 days of purchase.


Wholesale / LARGE ORDERS

How do I buy wholesale?

We offer a 40%-60% discount on our wholesale shop. Please email wholesale@diasporaco.com for the password.

You must be using our spices for your business needs in order to qualify for this. Please don’t use our wholesale store for personal use, it seriously hurts our margins.

Our minimum wholesale account opening order is $200 and $100 on each order thereafter.

What is your maximum wholesale capacity?

We are able to ship up to 200 lbs immediately upon order. More than 200 lb opening orders require at least a 6 week lead time.

What if I want to buy jars for an event/wedding/party favor, is there a discount?

Yes! Please email us at wholesale@diasporaco.com for order quantity over 12 3.53oz jars or 24 1.76oz jars! We’d love to be a part of your celebration!


gift orders

How does your card option work?

This year we asked Manuja Waldia and Aleesha Nandhra to create the artwork for our 2018 Holiday Cards. You can select which of the two card options you’d like included in your order, and fill out what message should appear inside. We’ll handwrite your message then send your gift! This card option is +$6 to your order.

If you’d like to send someone a handwritten card only or buy blank cards for yourself, you can purchase here.


Subscriptions

Can I change my Subbly subscription plan after I already signed up for another?

Yes! You can change the frequency in Subbly without unsubscribing. If you want to change the product, please unsubscribe from your current plan and subscribe to the one of your choice.

Can I get cancel my subscription?

Yes! You can cancel at any time using your Subbly account. This was emailed to you in your Subbly subscription confirmation email.

What if I cancel my subscription after I’ve been billed, but before my order has arrived?

Your order will still be on its way. Cancellations made after billing will only affect the next billing cycle. We cannot retroactively refund your subscription fee after you’ve been billed.


Collabs

How do we collaborate with you on a product, event, campaign, or anything else?

We love to collaborate on all sorts of things! Please email info@diasporaco.com to start a conversation with us.


 Clockwise from top left: Jessica Lewis (co-packer), Sibongile Sithe (ops), Rosie Russell (fulfillment), Sophie Peoples (design), Sana Javeri Kadri (founder), Lily Russell (mascot), Lindsay Oda (studio ops)

Clockwise from top left: Jessica Lewis (co-packer), Sibongile Sithe (ops), Rosie Russell (fulfillment), Sophie Peoples (design), Sana Javeri Kadri (founder), Lily Russell (mascot), Lindsay Oda (studio ops)

Team & Hiring

Who are y’all?

  • Prabhu Kumar Kasaraneni, Production Lead & Partner Farmer

  • Sayed Ishtoyaque, India Ops Manager

  • Lindsay Oda, Studio & Ops Manager

  • Rosie Russell, Fulfilment Manager

  • Jessica Lewis, Co-Packer

  • Sophie Peoples, Lead Designer

  • Sana Javeri Kadri, Founder & CEO

Are you hiring?

We're always looking for great folks to join our team! More specifically, we currently need Brand Ambassadors to do demos and Interns to keep up with daily small biz operations and marketing. We’re also open to any other talents that meet our business needs! Please email info@diasporaco.com with a copy of your resume + a short paragraph about why you think you're a great fit and what you've got to offer!


Values

Why do you call yourself a “queer” food business?

We’ve been thinking very deeply about this - about what it means to state that a business is a queer business, and what work that does, if any? Does it just serve to further alienate folks? Or does it further the hope that queers can take over the world? Here’s what we’ve come up with -

For us, it is about claiming space— in a time where the LGBTQ+ community is not afforded the rights, respect or safety that our heterosexual counterparts enjoy, acknowledging that this space and this standard of excellence was and continues to be built by queer folk is an active tool against erasure and towards normalizing our right to exist. The queer archive is in constant threat of being deleted, and if a successful, sustainable business can work against that, we feel that we are serving our community.

Queer theory goes far beyond simply a sexual preference or gender identity, it is also about the collective liberation of all peoples, and a resistance to systemic oppression and injustice. Applying queer theory to our business gives us a clear north star to work towards every day and a deep understanding of why we wake up to do what we do, even when it all feels difficult and immense.

By being a queer business we are centering the tremendous labor and legacy of women of color and people of color in the Global South and in Diaspora who are often left out of the present day food system and not given a seat at the table. We are dedicated to making space for everyone at the table.

What does decolonizing mean and how does it apply to your business?

The original intent of colonial conquest of the Indian subcontinent was a desire for domination of the spice trade. So as a postcolonial business at the crossroads of food and culture- decolonization of food is our founding principle. It is putting power and resources into indigenous spice farming and creating a radically new and equitable vision of the spice trade, decolonization a commodity back into a seasonal crop, and a broken system into an equal exchange.

Why do you sell on Amazon?

This was a really tough decision for us. Sometimes, you have to play the game to get good enough to create a whole new game. Right now, traditional wholesale takes a 50% cut of all our revenue, whereas Amazon works out to roughly 30%, which is 20% more cold hard cash in our bank account. Our goal right now is to be able to give advances to our partner farms and buy their harvests out right. For that, we need to be making significantly more revenue every month. We see Amazon as a temporary means to an end, not the goal.