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Ethical Choices and Organic Food

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June 29, 2014 / Vegan / By
Anna

When I first moved to Dubai, it was a dusty little city with a handful of iconic buildings. The bank tellers smoked as they served you. There were no smoke-free areas in restaurants and organic food had not yet arrived.

During an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in the UK, I suggested to the butcher at the local western style supermarket that they look at importing their beef from alternative places such as New Zealand or Australia. He laughed; I realized that the laughter was embarrassment at my Mad Woman suggestion. Nevertheless, within two weeks, the only beef available in the supermarkets was from Australia and New Zealand. I tell this little vignette to illustrate that things can change quickly in Dubai, not to take any credit for the arrival of healthy meat.

Most food was and still is imported. Apart from dates, fish, goats and some grains that were grown in the mountainous areas, this has always been the case. In more recent times, herbs, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers have been grown locally. Increasingly, imported vegetables have been grown hydroponically and the technique is being introduced to the UAE with the help of Dutch enterprises.

This is a mixed blessing. The ability to grow more food within the UAE increases the amount of food security the country has even if it is minimal at present. But, I have yet to taste a hydroponic vegetable that actually does have flavor. It may be nutritionally as good as that grown in the ground, but a lot of the flavor of food comes from the ground it is grown in.

Another major change that has taken place is in the popularity of organic food. There is an organic restaurant with several branches in the city. And recently, an enterprising young woman has started an organic café called Bestro.

Each person is served a glass of lemon-flavored water from a large dispenser on the counter. There is no charge for the water and customers can refill their glasses – well, jars actually – at will. This is impressive in a country where access to water is essential due to the high temperatures and, traditionally, offering water to the needy was an obligation. However, most restaurants in Dubai make you pay, sometimes at exorbitant prices, for water in heavy glass bottles that have been shipped great distances to land on your table.

As Bestro is a café in a mall, it cannot not sell alcohol, but the whole ethos of the restaurant emphasizes health so this is not an issue. The drinks, also served in jars, but much larger ones, are made of interesting ingredients. For example, cacao pro-biotic nut milk is one drink that I adore. It is based on almond milk made in-house and is a healthy, sugar-free chocolate drinThe wild mushroom tart is delicious. Although, I must admit that I am not convinced that the mushrooms are really all that wild. The casing for the tart is based on nuts. The filling is a variety of mushrooms, whisked together in a food processor and topped with citrus-infused oil. It is also accompanied by a kale salad dressed with an oil and miso vinaigrette. While it doesn’t look large, it is very filling.

Along with tempting foods, the restaurant offers customers opportunities to do good in the community. Last time I was there, an appeal had been launched to help a family deal with the costs of cancer treatment. The appeal for this family was written on a prominent blackboard, allowing customers the option to respond or not as they saw fit.

The café is situated in Dubai Mall in the food area of Galleries Lafayette. The owner told me that she had quite a hard time convincing the management that a vegan, organic restaurant could offer food that was of a suitable caliber. Thankfully, she was able to convince them. At Bestro, you can have a delicious meal and leave feeling virtuous.

Bestro

Country: United Arab Emirates

Province/State: Dubayy

City: Dubai Mall

Address: Doha Street

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: Gallery Lafayette food court in Dubai Mall

Phone: N/A

Website:https://m.facebook.com/Be...

Price Guide:$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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