Special to Arabian Gazette by Hermoine Macura
Offsetting cancer and heart disease are not the only reasons why many people are choosing to go green when shopping for their groceries. Apart from staying fresh longer, fruit and vegetables grown in organic farms are found to have more antioxidants. Here in the UAE, organic farms are springing up all over the country as demand grows for fresh locally grown chemical free produce. Hermoine Macura meets founder of “Organiliciouz”, Emirati Obaid Saqr Al Marri and finds out what ignited his passion for going into the organic business.
Just a short drive outside of the hustle and bustle of Dubai, will lead you to a plethora of organic farms which have been catering to the local populations for decades. However a new breed of organic farms are springing up across the country which are now catering to an even greater demand from Emirati’s and expatriates alike. As information about the health benefits of Organic food grows, more and more residents are choosing to go out of their way to purchase pesticide free produce. For farm owners such as Emirati Obaid Saqr Al Marri, business is booming. “We have been operating efficiently since 2010 and now have seven farms. We are looking to expand and double that number by 2013.”
According to Obaid, everything can be grown here in the UAE according to the seasons and the farmer’s experience. “We start very early in the morning, at around 6am where we start harvesting…. we pick the best produce and distribute it according to the weekly schedule. By 10am, we then start work on the composting, fertilizing and cleaning.”
Obaid’s passion for green produce began as a personal journey following his wife’s first pregnancy and his desire to make sure that she was getting the best food and nutrients for two. “When my wife was pregnant I wanted to make sure that she would be eating the healthiest food for her and our baby, so when I started reading and investigating, I thought all people should be aware of organic foods, especially for young children.”
There are many benefits of an organic diet especially for young children as their organs are developing. On average, organic food has high levels of vitamins, high levels of trace minerals and increased levels of antioxidants, which are cancer fighting compounds.
And in an age where we need everything we can get from mother nature, healthy food is now an absolute: It is a concern many residents share following experiences of not having healthy food in ones diet not to mention the growing phenomena of cancer. “Once produce is picked, it stops receiving nutrients from the source plant. In addition, after days of traveling whether it was by airplane or shipment, the amount of nutrients in the fruit or vegetable begins to diminish, says Obaid. “Locally grown produce that has the privilege of a longer time to mature on the host plant and gain many more nutrients… it’s also fresher and more flavorful as we pick it only when it is ripe and ready.”
The other factor is education of course and how we as a community can reduce our carbon footprint.
These days many residents are quite aware about the environment and their obligation to minimize pollution from air, soil and water. Organiliciouz is just one of several organizations looking to develop campaigns with various government organizations. “We currently schedule field visits to the farm and are in discussions with the Ministry of Environment and water to provide educational campaigns in schools and universities.”
In addition to that, the demand and growth is also introducing more choices in the way the produce is made available to residents.”There is a new concept that we are about to launch which will be in one of the farms in Al Ain…. we will be using the strategic location of the farm as a farm Gate shop, so people can pass by, buy their vegetables, eggs and chickens. We are very excited and we are working very hard to finish it very soon.”
Hermoine Macura is the first Australian female English speaking TV News Anchor in the Middle East, and also one of the area’s most recognized faces. Prior to establishing Straight Street Media in 2012, Hermoine was one of the main Anchor’s on Dubai One TV’s Emirates News. Her first book, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST was published in 2010.
FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST is a book that aims to introduce the various ethnic and social groups who reside throughout the Middle East, proof that this part of the world is not, as many in the West mistakenly believe, a monolithic culture.
Neither a definitive story nor a political statement, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST, is the culmination of more then seven years of Photojournalism that documents the existence and rich diversity present in the region.
Order a copy online at www.straightstreetmedia.ae.