Organic Food - What you need to know & Budget Friendly Advice
My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I picked up my first organic tomato at a local grocery store, it was five times the price of a regular tomato. I swallowed and placed it neatly back in the box, that was 3 years ago. Since then, I’m more convinced about benefits of eating organic and I've picked up several tricks on how to keep it affordable. I'll imagine you're me 3 years ago and I'll quickly walk you through what organic eating is, its benefits, downsides and how to keep it within your budget.
What is Organic Food?
Organic foods are foods that are grown, and processed, without the use of chemicals, pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs) and sewage based fertilizers. Organic produce is grown with natural fertilizers such as manure and compost. Pests and weeds are controlled with the use of natural methods. For pests: birds, insects and naturally made pesticides. For weeds: weeding by hand and crop rotation.
Taste: Try an organic tomato and see what you’ve been missing all your life.
Consuming fewer pesticides: The chemicals that are used in conventional growing and harvesting of crops are known to leave residues on the food we eat and these can be harmful to us.
Fresher foods: Although you have to be certain where the produce was grown and cultivated, most organic foods are fresher because they don’t contain preservatives.
Environment-Friendly: Organic Farming is ultimately better for the environment. This type of farming uses less energy, reduces pollution and soil erosion, uses less water and encourages soil fertility.
GMO-free: GMO, or Genetically Modified Organisms, foods have had their DNA altered and modified in ways that cannot happen naturally. Organically grown foods are GMO free.
Price: It can be expensive, however, by prioritising what foods to buy you can can stay within your food budget.
What you can get away with
Known as the “Clean 15”, these conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are generally low in pesticides.
What to ALWAYS buy organic Known as the “Dirty Dozen” when grown conventionally they are much higher in pesticides than others, and should be avoided.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Buy Seasonal produce: Your local farmer's market is your best friend. We have several running in Dubai. On my last trip I got a box of cherry tomatoes for as little as AED 4, about $ 2, which is quite cheap by Dubai standards.
Buy in Bulk: The more you buy the cheaper it's going to be, especially at the market. You can always freeze your excess fruits and veggies for later. It also saves you meal prep time.
Grow your own: I live in a hot desert, but I can still fit a herb pot in my kitchen. Mint & Basil are great to start with. I've heard of people who grow their own tomatoes out here. Wherever you are, whatever space you've got exercising your green thumb is a great way to save costs. There are several resources on gardening out there, search and you shall find.
Buy In-store Brands: It's always better to buy in-store brands, as they usually come at a discounted rate.
Some places to source Organic Food in Dubai
The Farmers Market
GreenHeart Organic Farms
Organic Cafe & Store
Bio Organic Store
Holland and Barrett
Local supermarkets will sometimes stock organic produce
I hope you found this helpful, and if you’d like me to do a detailed review on any of these places or you’d like to add to the list, send me a message on social media @Dubaifitfoodie