Bone Broth from This Canadian Ayurveda-Inspired Company May Help Soothe What Ails You

The founder of an Ayurvedic bone broth company infuses the now-trendy food with tradition

This story is part of Best Health’s Preservation series, which spotlights wellness businesses and practices rooted in culture, community and history. 

If your favourite wellness activities include yoga, meditation or using herbs and adaptogens, you’ve already been dabbling in Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is a system of healing that originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. It employs methods such as diet, herbal remedies, yoga and breathing practices to prevent illness and promote balance in the body. One of Ayurveda’s main goals is to discover the root cause of a disease before it progresses, and in India it’s common for people to get treatment for allergies, diabetes and gut issues through an Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner.

Mithalee Rawat, who was born in the Indian city Pune, grew up surrounded by professional and home cooks, eating food that had influences from many different regions of her home country. While her early diet didn’t always conform to traditional Ayurvedic practices, elements of that knowledge seeped into her daily life.

“We didn’t grow up eating Ayurvedic—so much of Indian food isn’t Ayurvedic,” Rawat says. “But if we were sick, the foods our mom gave us would be something that her dad told her is good for the flu.”

When she was 15, Rawat moved with her family to Canada, where she started immersing herself in the culinary world, working as a line cook and later studying culinary arts at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. But it wasn’t until she began working at a raw vegan restaurant in Edmonton that she realized how much influence Ayurveda was having on the mostly white clientele.

“All of these people knew so much more about Ayurvedic herbs than I did. That’s when I realized that what South Asian people have been doing for a long time is now being marketed in a new age-y way,” Rawat says. “I joke that Ayurveda is the longest clinical trial in the world, since it has been practiced over thousands of years and has been proven incredibly effective.”

Rawat began to learn more about the practice and, in 2018, she launched Shorba Bone Broth, an Ayurveda-inspired bone broth company.

Shorba uses bones from locally sourced, grass-fed beef and free-run chicken to make shorba, which means broth or soup in several languages, including Hindi, Arabic, Turkish and Bulgarian. The company offers a four- or seven-day Reset program, consisting of bone broth and khichari, a rice and lentil dish based on simple and easily digestible ingredients.

After noticing that western-style bone broth, usually made with aromatics, was being marketed for good gut health, Rawat used her knowledge of Ayurveda to create a bone broth recipe that avoided ingredients like onions or garlic, which are not considered suitable for sensitive stomachs. Shorba products, such as the 48-Hour Beef Broth with Ayurvedic Elixir and the 24-Hour Chicken Bone Broth with Ayurvedic Elixir, use a blend of organic spices like ginger, turmeric root, black peppercorns, bay leaves and other medicinal ingredients. Simmering the bones in these spices amplifies the benefits of the broth, and is said to contain anti-inflammatory properties and support gut health.

Bone broth also contains essential minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, plus collagen, which strengthens your hair, nails and bones. Collagen also contains amino acids that help hold your tissues, muscles and joints together.

Ayurvedic teachings were part of the backdrop to Rawat’s upbringing, but the wider wellness industry too often centres white practitioners appropriating cultural knowledge over the people of colour who are the holders of that ancestral knowledge. It’s something that Rawat says can’t be ignored. “If they are white, they should be acknowledging the original source and knowledge of the wisdom, and ensuring the people and the land that it comes from are also benefiting from the commercialization of it. It must be empowering for the cultures whose ancestral teachings are being used.”

As her business continues to grow alongside the interest in eastern wellness practices, Rawat is hoping to see more respect from wellness practitioners. “There are ways for white people to appreciate cultures and foods without feeling entitled to them. Ayurveda is for everyone and these foods are for everyone, but presenting non-Asians as experts of Asian medicine is a problematic dynamic.”

This story is part of Best Health’s Preservation series, which spotlights wellness businesses and practices rooted in culture, community and history. Read more from this series here: 

Meet Sisters Sage, an Indigenous Wellness Brand Reclaiming Smudging

Have Super Dry Skin? This Canadian Skincare Company Is Here to Help

This Soap Brand Is Sharing the Healing Power of Inuit Tradition

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada