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About Dubai: Going organic? Shop here

Nivriti Butalia / 15 June 2013

Organic Foods and Café on Shaikh Zayed Road in Dubai is the one-stop shop for those who want everything — from eatables to cosmetics — as natural as it could be, but for a price

Friday afternoons at the Organic Foods and Café on Shaikh Zayed Road are bustling with people pushing their shopping carts past vegetables that have been flown in from Africa, towards the aisles that stock soba noodles and miso and brown rice, onwards to the poultry section.

A family-run organisation, this organic — and biodynamic — food supermarket and café, next to Oasis Centre, also sells organic supplements, skincare, cosmetics, baby items and household cleaning products. You’ll find, among other things, quinoa and amaranth on these aisles.

Shopping at an organic store is not cheap. On some days of the month, on certain weekends, there is a 20 per cent off on all produce except cosmetics but the tea tree oil and eucalyptus toothpastes and handwashes are still around Dh20. There is a range of products called [A’Kin]. One product from the line is a paraben-free, soap-free and sulfate-free “energising all in one hair and body wash”, with Orange, Ginseng and Spice, that costs Dh38. But to people who are used to buying only organic produce, there is no alternative.

Buddy Abrahams, 39, a commercial director, has been living in Dubai for 10 years and shopping at the Organic Foods and Café since the first branch opened nine years ago in Satwa.

Abrahams, who says he is close friends with owner and founder Nils Al Eccad, has been a loyal customer since the Satwa store, moving on to the second outlet in the Greens Community in 2005. In 2008, the supermarket and café in Satwa was replaced with a new store three times the size in The Dubai Mall, followed by the opening of the supermarket in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and the supermarket and Café in Seef Mall, Bahrain. At the beginning of the year, the company closed their outlet in The Dubai Mall and opened this new flagship store on Shaikh Zayed Road, next to Oasis Center. A new shop in Village Mall in Jumeirah 1 is due to open in the coming weeks. You can find them on Facebook and get updates on which days the discounts are on.

For someone like Abrahams, shopping anywhere else isn’t an option. He says he can “feel the difference in the taste” between organic and non-organic grown food. And the meat — he doesn’t touch the non-organic stuff that “is injected with hormones”, he says.

“Why would you want to do that to your body?” He also says that he has had more energy since the switch to organic food many years ago. Both he and his wife cook with the produce they buy at the Shaikh Zayed Road store.

For another customer, Deepa Phillips, a management trainer at Dubai Aluminium, this Friday was her first visit to the new and improved branch of the organic store. And she was on the lookout for white tea and quinoa – not nececssarily organic. She says the quality at the store — she’s been going to the branch at The Dubai Mall — is “second to none”. Other items on her regular shopping list include: Manuka honey and agave nectar. “My family calls me Miss Obsessive.”

She’s also an advocate of grass-fed lamb, which is available at other stores throughout Dubai as well. At the café part of the store, there is a breakfast menu and a business lunch menu and everything on the menu is organic. Even the beef in the beef burger is organic. On the day Khaleej Times visited, on the list of specials is farfel pasta with chicken and mushroom sauce and black lentil with poached egg salad.

The most interesting sections are the teas. There is elderflower and peppermint and chamomile and other soothing and detox varieties.

The Organic Foods and Café has plans to expand, with new stores opening in locations throughout the GCC. It supplies over 12,000 hormone- and chemical-free products from producers throughout the world, as well as the largest gluten-free products in the region.

With being so spoilt for choice, the one guarantee is the overall benefit to your health. The downside: shopping here could become a habit.


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