Many people are striving to eat healthier in an effort to ward off heart disease, lose weight, and to live a better quality of life. An integral part of a healthy diet is eating several servings of fresh produce every day. When shopping for produce, you will come across the terms “organic” and “natural,” but do you know what they mean?
What are Natural Foods?
Although buying food labelled “natural” or “all natural” may seem like a healthy decision, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the food was grown without being processed or that it is free from chemicals. In most cases, each individual company determines how natural foods are grown. While one company may grow their foods without herbicides or pesticides, another company may use those chemical fertilisers and still label their products as “natural.” This grey area stems from the fact that there are no set standards in this arena.
What are Organic Foods?
Produce, meat, and dairy foods labelled as “organic” have to meet stringent guidelines set forth by the federal government in the United Arab Emirates. As in many other places around the world, organic foods in the UAE are grown without the use of chemicals, growth hormones, or GMOs. If a company tries to sell food labelled as organic without federal certification, it can be seized and destroyed by the government.
In the UAE, the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology is the certification body for organic foods. Farms growing organic foods are visited twice per year and their soil is tested to ensure no chemicals are being used to treat them. Foods sold as organic in stores like Deena Farms must display a label or sticker from the ESMA if it is grown in the UAE. Imported organic food must be from countries that are permitted to import food to the UAE, and their domestic governing body must label their products as organic.
More Demand for Organic Products
Even though organic food is more expensive than conventionally grown foods, there is an increasing demand for organic products in the UAE. With a high per capita income in the region, many people can afford to buy organic foods from supermarkets. Others who may not be able to afford organic products can usually find organically grown foods in outdoor markets, though they are not usually labelled as organic.
Many people who have switched from conventionally grown foods to organic in the UAE report they feel more energetic, they don’t have as many stomach issues, and they can work longer because they have more stamina. As the demand increases, organic farming is growing and becoming more widespread throughout the region, so most of the produce, meat, and dairy sold in organic stores is actually grown in the UAE.
If you are concerned about your health and the type of foods you’re putting in your body, then you should buy from a store selling organically grown foods. Look for the ESMA label on fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, as well as the other food products in the store. This label ensures that the federal government has inspected the farm where the food came from, and the ESMA seal indicates that the farm was using organic methods to grow the food.