Oh Woolies how I miss you. And my local green grocer. And all of the Organic shops and initiatives back in Oz.
Since arriving in Dubai I have been on a personal war between myself and eating crap. It’s like no matter how hard I try, we end up eating processed cheese and bread with weird letters in its ingredients section. This went on for the first 8 weeks, until enough was enough.
A week or so ago I decided to really and truly research where to buy and locate PROPER YUMMY foods. I wanted it to be natural, and free range items and I wanted to stop visiting the dreaded Carrefours *shudder*.
What is this Carrefours I speak about? It’s a hypermarket and it sells everything and anything. From televisons, to diapers, to car seats and it has its very own butcher. It’s as big as suburb and its the 3rd most profitable store in the world. Just as an idea, here is a pic.
Shopping in Dubai for fruit and veg means you have to be knowledgeable about world geography. Why I hear you ask? Because every single fruit and vegetable item is imported from around the world (except for cucumbers).
Basically put, NOTHING grows properly in the desert. So every time I go to Carrefour, I get heart palpitations trying to think: which country is closer? Cleaner? Is it shipped or air freight? And ofcourse I ALWAYS try to buy Australian. Its like I am on a mission to see the A word. The 2nd best choice is New Zealand. When I see a good old Rockmelon or Avacado or Mandarin with that Aussie sticker, the pride I feel is like my little sister graduated high school. It’s like: “wow, Oz, we have really hit the big time now!!”
The worst choice is the USA and some South American countries. Holland products are the most expensive and best in appearance.
But lately everything I have been purchasing has disappointed me. I bought Pakistani mangoes, and they went off the next day. I purchased strawberries from Holland and they were sour. I purchased NZ apples and they were bruised. I purchased Lebanese apricots and they were so soft and mushy. The only luck I have is with bananas from China. Thank God for China.
So, in fear of my children turning INTO a banana, I jumped online and found RIPE ME.
I called them at RipeMe and visited their store. I checked it out and was greatly satisfied with the local produce they stock. AND they deliver! They stock a lot of the fruit and veg that I need, and although it works out more expensive, I feel so much better eating an apple that tastes like an apple. FYI, I use the “Dirty dozen rule”.
Ofcourse it means that I need to plan ahead and sometimes we run out of something… But overall, it works well and now my children even understand the difference between crap and well, an apple.
Dubai has truly shocked me with HOW much they love chemically riddled products. Even their milk is so bad for you. But at least you have around 75 different milk brands to choose from, right?!
I could be here all day trying to convey this message, and still you cannot imagine. Maybe it has to do with cultural practices, and maybe a lack of education regarding nutrition? I know I am sounding like I am stereotyping, but this is my guess….
I don’t make this guess hastily, just recently at my children’s school, they introduced some new rules to lunchboxes. Ofcourse my children’s BHP free tupperware lunchboxes were very “Australian” – carrot sticks, sultanas, wholemeal sandwich or last nights dinner and a yougurt. Sometimes as a treat they get crackers.
Other students come to school with COKE CANS, mars bars, and a small tub of nutella (!!??) The English teacher my son has, Ms. Rachael, sent a letter home indicating the rights and wrongs of packing a lunchbox. It was hilarious to read. But I do wonder if the teachers know that it is also VERY hard to pack a healthy lunchbox when the supermarkets here offer everything so easily wrapped and full of sugar. Why buy fresh fruit when you could a fake fruity snack?
At the end of the day, I will endeavour to provide my family with the best quality food I can find. However, I will not lose sleep if we eat white bread or have non-organic produce. I want to equip my children with the knowledge of healthy eating habits, but I don’t want them to stress and therefore have a bad relationship with food.
Till next time,