Many people who don’t buy organic say cost is the main reason. We’re often asked why organic food is more expensive. But we think the question should be: why is conventional food so cheap? If we look back 40 years or so the average household spent around 50% of their disposable income on food. Nowadays it’s less than 20%. Meat was purchased from the local butcher, fruit & vegetables from the greengrocer, bread from the baker and so on. Expensive meat cuts or poultry were reserved as Sunday treats as were cakes and other delicacies. But nowadays we want to eat whatever we want whenever we feel like it and in large quantities. So our insatiable appetite is being catered for by cheap adulterated food. We prefer to spend our money on luxury goods, cars and holidays rather than on good quality nutritious food.
The question may be asked; which came first, the chicken or the egg?…the appetite or the cheap food? Whatever the answer, the fact is that eating processed chemical-riddled, GM foods has made us sick, over weight, infertile and depressed.
And we’re not the only ones suffering. Our planet is too. Global warming is melting our polar ice caps. Our oceans are polluted. The air we breathe is poisonous and ancient forests are being erased. Waste is dumped in landfills and in our seas. Irresponsible food production is to blame for many of these problems.
When you eat genuine organic produce you feel better, help yourself to stay healthy and/or cure yourself from disease. You take more responsibility for the planet and help to preserve it for future generations by being a responsible consumer.
Consumers are powerful and together if we turn our backs on irresponsible brands and companies that harm us and our planet these brands have to make positive changes or they’ll simply cease to exist.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
For those of you who want to know more details please read on. We have broken this rather complex subject into easier digestible bites …
All genuine organic farmers grow their crops in harmony with nature. Instead of killing microorganisms with chemicals they create a sustainable environment and a healthy eco-system.
Rather than depleting the soil of nutrients and poisoning it with artificial fertilizers and pesticides etc.
Farmers are reverting back to traditional techniques as well as implementing relatively new practices such as Permaculture and Bio-Dynamic Growing.
Building and maintaining healthy soil is key. In half a cup of healthy soil there are more microorganisms than there are human beings on this planet. Composting crop left overs and animal manure is an effective way to achieve this and all genuine organic farms should have a soil-building program. Most people know that plant roots absorb nutrients from the soil but it is a lesser-known fact that they also release nutrients back into it. So growing the same crops in the same field over and over again is really quite silly. Rotating crops in a particular way helps to keep soil healthy and well balanced. All genuine organic farmers should grow a large selection of different crops.
But Mono-cropping (growing only one or very few types of crops) has other negative impacts too. It attracts fungus, harmful bacteria, pests and unbalances the entire eco-system. In nature there is always a multitude of different plants growing together, referred to as bio-diversity. Organic farmers try to copy nature as much as possible. ‘Intercropping’ is a practice that refers to different crops being planted together in close proximity. ‘Companion Planting’ is another technique, which refers to crops that are grown together because they that are mutually beneficial. They can provide shade and nutrients or protect each other from pests. Entire studies have been carried out on the subject and each farmer has his or her own secret favorite combination.
To make the best possible compost it is vital to practice mixed-farming; combining crop and livestock farming. Although this is in our view a vital component in organic farming, this is not always practiced. There’s an easy explanation as to why we believe this is so important: The farm grows fodder for the animals, which are kept in large open enclosures and the manure they produce is composted. The compost in turn is used to add nutrients to the fields, and so it goes – the cycle of life.
Organic farms should only use heirloom seeds, ideally collected at their own farm. This isn’t always practiced but you should ask your local farm if they have a seed bank. It’s really important to protect traditional vegetable varieties and refrain from using industrialized modern varieties such as Hybrids or Genetically Modified Seeds. There is a dedicated section on the importance of Seed Saving below.
Genuine organic Farmers also try to protect our resources and aim to use as little water and electricity as possible. In Europe many farms use renewable energy. In the Middle East this trend is still in its infancy but we do our bit in other ways such as carrying out most works by hand and wherever possible, drip irrigating all lands to save water & resources.
In some cases organic food is more expensive then conventionally grown food but it doesn’t have to be. It can be bought directly from the farmer, cutting out the middleman who usually collects the lion’s share. It is generally more expensive to grow organic food and less profitable for the grower. Therefore the retail price is naturally higher. But you get what you pay for: good quality, tasty produce that is nourishing and devoid of chemicals.
There are several factors contributing to this. Organic food is grown in rich soil and to build and maintain healthy soil and grow without artificial fertilizers is very time consuming. Hybrid or GM varieties grow faster and can often be harvested unripe for a faster turnaround of the field and a longer shelf life. As conventional farming allows the use of pesticides most regular farms only grow very few crops, which allows higher yields as the entire farming process is simplified. Conventional produce is generally grown not for its flavor or nutrient value but for its weight and speed. This is why conventional Tomatoes are, for instance, often so mushy inside … they are often grown in record time absorbing large amounts of water in a short space of time. Organic food on the other hand is slow grown in rich soil, work is carried out manually and varieties are selected for taste and nutritional value. Yields are often lower and as there are no pesticides being used there may be a few more damages. Storage times are much shorter as no preservatives are used.
Avoiding wastage of food and only buying the produce you know you will eat can help to reduce cost and make up for the extra expense. Planning ahead can safe a lot of money and it give a real sense of satisfaction when all the food is used up.
The food we eat affects our health and a wholesome organic diet low in sugar and processed foods together with low stress-levels and enough sleep will not only ward off chronic disease but boost your energy levels, mood and overall outlook on life.
Food isn’t simply there to fill our bellies and to satisfy our cravings. It is the fuel for our motor and everyone that owns a car will know that if you feed it bad quality fuel and fail to maintain your car it will sooner or later break down in the middle of the road!
Genuine freshly harvested organic produce has on average 50% more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micro-nutrients than its conventional counterparts. Locally grown food is picked when it’s ripe, contributing to the overall nutritional value, but as mentioned before it’s all in the soil. If the soil is rich in nutrients so is the crop.
Conventionally grown produce is not only of lesser nutritional value but usually contains a cocktail of different pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and hormones. For example, fruit vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicums or cucumbers can have 20 or more chemicals on the skin alone and if growers and retailers were forced to declare them NOBODY would buy them anymore. Despite the fact that the World Health Organization and other official bodies have declared many of these chemicals a hazardous to our health they are still being used and virtually no studies have been carried out as to how a mixture of these different chemicals affects our system. Many modern day diseases, allergies and symptoms can be traced directly back to a toxic overload of our system.
Right now we grow more than half of our produce from our own seeds and we hope to be completely independent from foreign seeds within the next two to three years. The reason for doing so is simple: Nowadays more than 80 percent of all seeds are produced by chemical companies and they are designed to be grown in conjunction with chemical fertilizers and other agricultural toxins.
We’re completely against using any chemicals and prefer traditional slow-grown varieties that need natural healthy soil and fertilizers to do well. When we first started, we realized that industrial seeds designed for moderate climates just don’t work very well in the UAE desert. So we looked for traditional heirloom seeds that came from countries with similar climates, and we’ve had such great success with some of them that we’ve never looked back.
Every year our seeds adapt more to the UAE climate. They become increasingly desert-hardy and consume less water. Currently our seed-bank includes over 250 varieties and we stock over 100,000 seeds.
Industrial seeds are sterile so the seeds produced by hybrid fruit and vegetables would if you collected them not produce food that you can eat. They would either not germinate or if they did germinate they would not produce edible fruit & veg. So you have to keep going back to the source to buy your seeds.
True Heirloom seeds on the other hand can be grown ‘true to variety’ over and over again. The more you collect them the more they adapt to the space that they are grown in. Prior to 1952 most food world-wide was grown from Heirloom Seeds and most farmers had their own seed bank.
Large industrial seed companies want to control the world’s seed production and eliminate Heirloom Seeds for good. So the more people are educated about the importance of heirloom seeds the better we can defend independent seeds production and chemical free, clean farming with lots and lots of biodiversity
If we continue to grow food irresponsibly and use up resources and pollute our soil, water, air and atmosphere we will ruin life as we know it for future generations.
One of the contributing factors for Global Heating is the way we farm. Poor soil is not able to lock up carbon so it releases it into the atmosphere. If all farms would adapt organic growing methods and implement soil building programs, excess carbon could be stored in the soil where it belongs and Global Heating could be reduced drastically in a short space of time.
Working with nature preserves nature and organic agriculture helps to preserve the health of all our eco-systems such as forests, lakes, seas, rivers, meadows and wetlands. All the organic growing methods described above contribute to a harmonious relationship between modern day food production and nature.
The quality of our drinking water is directly affected by our food production. Harmful toxins poison our water resources ….
Our suggestion is to first of all ask yourself if the price is realistic, e.g. If a retailer offers 1kg of cucumbers for AED 6/8 then they would buy it at AED 3/4. Is it really possible to grow organic cucumbers for this price in the UAE desert?
How much transparency does the grower/retailer offer? Is there a website? Are the pictures genuine? Growing genuine organic food takes education, experience & hard work. Anyone able to grow properly has to be articulate enough to communicate what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Ask questions. Demand answers. If consumers are no longer willing to put up with fraudulent produce, retailers and restaurants have to do more to provide transparency. And finally the proof is in the pudding. If the organic produce you buy tastes and feels exactly like the non-organic stuff then it most likely is the non-organic stuff – just more expensive.