UAE residents may have a reputation for unhealthy eating habits, but it seems the tide is slowly turning. As The National reported yesterday, consumers are buying and eating more organically grown food while western counterparts cut back.
The Ministry of Environment and Water has revealed that more than 5,000 tonnes of organic produce was harvested last year, an increase of 15 per cent on 2009. This rise in greenhouse farming follows a general rise in popularity for locally produced crops.
The last few years have seen an increase in farmers' markets across the Emirates. Every Friday, farmers from Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khaimah, Umm al Qaiwain, Al Ain and Sharjah descend on some of Dubai's largest developments to sell their vegetables, herbs and dairy products. The offer of fresh products has been gleefully received by the public, and similar markets have popped up across the other emirates.
To be certain, farming in the desert is a significant drain on fresh water. Agriculture practices that use less water are, therefore, essential. But local organic (and pesticide-free) food mean less travel, thereby offering the benefit of burning less fossil fuels to reach our plates.
UAE residents are increasingly seeking healthy food options. And at long last, local farmers are answering the call.