How Onions Can Make or Break a Community

At Gills Onions, it’s no secret that onions are at the forefront of our minds every day. They’re not just a part of our lives—they’re what our lives revolve around. Onions make up our livelihood, and they are the glue that brings our community together. From factory workers, to farmers, to consumers, onions are truly at the heart of our microcosm.

But we’re not the only ones deeply impacted by onions. 

As the second largest producer of onions in the world, India eats, sleeps, and breathes onions. Take a look at how onions have impacted this country in recent years.

Why Onions Are At the Heart of India

Wild onions were first discovered growing in India thousands of years ago and are even mentioned in ancient Hindu texts. Over time, as traditional onion crops came to the region, they flourished in the rich soil of northern India. The abundance of this crop made them affordable, and a staple in Indian cuisine. 

Think of all of your favorite Indian dishes: tikka masala, butter chicken, paneer, samosas. All of these dishes depend on onions to give them that delicious, familiar taste you love. Because the onion is so essential to Indian cuisine, the supply and demand of this vegetable is often a hot political topic. 

Unpredictable events like heavy rain and flooding often cause onion crops to fail, making the price of onions skyrocket within just a few days. This drop in supply leads to panic and a call for government leadership to step in and support farmers and vendors. 

The turbulent rise and fall of onion prices caused so much upset among the Indian people in 1980 that India’s central government was overthrown. Indira Gandhi, India’s first and only female prime minister, regained power by citing soaring onion prices as a failure of the opposing party. 

Similarly, in 1998 unregulated onion prices were a huge determining factor for elections in the states of Delhi and Rajasthan. Disgruntled voters overthrew local leaders in the hopes that a new party would be able to stabilize the onion market.

When prices rose drastically again in 2010 after serious flooding, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stopped all exports of the crop in order to lower costs and avoid another political upheaval. By forbidding onions to leave the country, demand from neighboring countries ceased, to match a decrease in local supply, thus stabilizing prices.

This economic model has now become the government’s standard response to high onion prices in recent years, including a ban on exports in 2019, and another ban in 2020. While this solution works to lower prices for Indians temporarily, experts argue it is unsustainable, and has a negative impact on neighboring countries who rely on India’s exports. 

For example, after the most recent export ban this year, onion prices doubled in Bangladesh, leaving people hungry, out of work, and scrambling to find other sources for import. 

Hopefully in the future, the Indian government will be able to assist in better dry storage options, and other precautionary measures for onion crops during rainy seasons.

Why We Care

So why does Gills Onions care so much about the impact of onions in India? Because we understand, better than most, just how important onions can be to a society. That same passion flows through us and shapes the way we do business. Our enthusiasm for onions drives us to provide fresh, high quality, value add products, every time. For Gills, and for the people of India, onions aren’t just a way to make a profit, they’re a way of life.

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department

Onions: The Key to Flavorful Cooking

Human beings are all about flavor. We like to enjoy our food and explore new culinary experiences. 

For centuries, mankind has sought out ways to elevate the food that we eat. Salts, spices, and newly discovered fruits and vegetables were celebrated, and, over time, perfected into the dishes we enjoy today. 

When you’re looking to give your favorite dishes a flavorful — and healthy — boost, look no further than the onion. 

A World History of Flavorful Onions

The seemingly humble onion has been a staple in the human diet since prehistoric times. They were one of the earliest cultivated crops and could be grown all over the world. 

The ancient Egyptians saw onions as an object of worship, and artwork shows onions on the banquet tables of great feasts and on the altars of sacrifice to the gods. 

The first-century Greeks used onions to fortify athletes for the Olympic games, and by the early sixth century, ancient Indians celebrated onions for both their flavor and their health benefits. 

The Europeans of the Middle Ages used onions as a staple in most meals. It was a favorite food of the very rich and the very poor. So much so that by the time the first European settlers came to America, they were sure to bring onions with them on the Mayflower

Today, onions are eaten and grown in more countries than any other vegetable

Use Onions to Spice Up Your Own Dishes

Onions taste great, and they look great, too. Their versatility allows them to add flavor and texture to soups, salsas, curries, and sauces. They can also act as toppers for entrees like chili, hot dogs, and red meat. 

Looking for a tangy side for your whitefish main course? Try combining diced onions with cucumbers, baby dill, sour cream, horseradish, and freshly cracked black pepper. 

Or, if seared scallops are on the menu, consider placing them on a bed of diced onions, red seedless grapes, and Italian parsley. 

In the mornings, you might sauté diced onions with red potatoes, parsley, and pancetta and mix with eggs to create a flavorful breakfast hash. 

Onions are delicious in salads and can be the secret ingredient for your next outdoor BBQ. The culinary possibilities are endless. 

Simply keep in mind the four main ways to work with onions: freshcut, sweating, sauteing, and caramelizing. 

  • Fresh-cut onions. Onions require little prep work to bring the flavor. Fresh cut yellow onions tend to offer a mild flavor, while red onions bring in brighter, sharper tones. White onions can have a strong flavor but leave a clean, crisp after taste. 
  • Sweating onions. Sweating an onion means to cook it over low heat until the onion becomes soft and clear without browning. Use this method to soften flavor and texture and increase sweetness. 
  • Sauteing onions. To saute an onion, cook over high heat with a small amount of oil until onions are golden brown. These onions will be softer than fresh cut but not as soft as onions that have been sweated and will have a rich, sweet flavor. 
  • Caramelizing onions. Caramelization is a slow, delicate process that combines sweating and sauteing. Sweat onions over medium-low heat, adding small amounts of water anytime the onions start to look dry or begin to brown very quickly. The water moistens the onions and helps dissolve sugars to prevent burning. When the onions begin to brown, lower the heat and stir periodically. Caramelized onions provide deep, sweet flavor. 

The Perks of Fresh-Cut Onions

If you’re still chopping onions, it’s a crying shame. 

Fresh-cut onions save time and keep you safe. Whether you’re a busy chef who needs to spend more time cooking and less time chopping or a busy parent who needs to do the same, fresh-cut onions are the perfect way to enjoy the flavor and health benefits of this amazing vegetable without the risk of knife injuries or tears. 

At Gills Onions, we specialize in fresh-cut yellow and red onions … but we love them all! 

For over 35 years, our growers have cultivated the fields of Southern and Central California “The Gill Way,” applying our unique prescription of best practices and conservation techniques to create truly exceptional onions.

We grow, harvest, wash, peel, trim, and cut every onion that arrives in your kitchen. Gills Onions have the longest shelf life in the industry — 18 days — and are always preservative-free. 

We are onion experts. It’s what we do, and we do it best. But don’t take our word for it. Our onions speak for themselves. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department