In last published post, I discussed what is Sustainable Food in general. But when we talk about sustainable food in UAE, there is quiet big change to make the food here sustainable.
Growing food in UAE through traditional farming has huge challenges. There is no naturally occurring soil in UAE so soil is bought from other countries in Asia. Lot of water is used for farming, the harsh summer increases that demand even more. But as there is no natural source of water in UAE, desalinated water from sea is used for farming. This water treatment uses high energy which makes farming in UAE totally unsustainable and increases pressure on natural resources and cause lot more carbon emission. So it's difficult to call food grown in UAE by traditional farming 'Sustainable Food'.
Will not comment much about organic food, though there are many organic farms in UAE; Organic certification locally is still in infancy and is following other certification bodies in Europe and US, which won't fit well here locally.
To make traditional farming more sustainable in UAE, government can initiate few new systems like,
1. Reusing specific organic waste to create compost and soil as end product and using that soil for farming instead of buying and shipping it from other places.
2. Providing treated grey water for farms for irrigation, so that they won't use desalinated water. This system will need investment but in long run will save more energy and reduce pressure on sewage disposal system too.
3. These above two systems can be implemented in every community instead of citywide and community food gardens can be formed.
Just few of my thoughts about how can we make the food growing in UAE more sustainable.
Buying Sustainable food in UAE
To buy sustainable food in UAE, we need to keep few things in mind. Like buying apples in UAE coming all the way from France would be less sustainable than buying Iranian apples. So I would say buying food from countries closer to UAE, gives us fresher food with less carbon emissions. Other factor is buying seasonal fruits and vegetables. Though we get almost all kind of food in UAE throughout the year, it makes more sense to buy seasonal food, which is preserved lesser and will be more fresh and will definitely have more nutrition! We need to create demand of sustainable food. For organic food, we need to ask questions, read labels, do our research to find authentic organic food. If you are buying fish, refer this guide to choose wisely the sustainable fish.
Also read post sustainable food, to learn more about what is sustainable food, what exactly is organic food, what are ways to of sustainable food consumption & waste disposal.
|Jabel Ali Golf Resort's Bio-Garden|
Sustainable Food Growing in UAE
|Growing capsicum in aquaponics|
|Growing lettuce in Aquaponics|
What is Aquaponics
Aquaponics systems are completely organic and they 4 to 6 times more productive than traditional gardening. Aquaponics systems use 90% less water than conventional gardens. This system has other advantages like less maintenance as no weed, fewer pests and no watering and fertilization needed.So that makes Aquaponics, one the most sustainable farming option in UAE
|Aquaponics System at JA Golf Resort|
Jabel Ali Golf Resort uses Tilapia Fish in aquaponics system to grow thyme, spring onion, cherry
|Fresh Herbs from Bio-Garden|
Sustainable food has that power of bringing us not only nutrition but authentic experience of savoring food, empowering workforce in food industry, conserving our resources and well being of everyone; we, our future generations and our planet!