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Where to shop for local, organic veg in Dubai

May 17, 2014

Local, organic veg - www.mycustardpie.comSmelling the delicious aroma of a freshly picked green pepper, sampling a plum tomato that only a few hours ago was on the vine, swapping food tips with other shoppers (what do you do with kohlrabi?), tasting yet another spoonful of amazing raw honey from Yemen, sitting on a rustic bench eating a homemade chicken sausage and egg roll washed down with freshly pressed pomegranate juice, swapping foodie gossip under the palms trees….

My favourite start to the weekend, every single Friday, is the Farmers’ Market on the Terrace next to Emirates Towers where I do my weekly shop for organic, local veg direct from the farmers and much more besides. But you knew that didn’t you. The hotter weather is creeping up, the market has ended for the season and I’m dreading being catapulted back into the dispiriting aisles of the supermarkets contemplating limp, tasteless veg, picked weeks ago and flown in from miles away. But luckily there are some alternatives which may keep us going until the most fallow months; tomatoes and potatoes plus free range eggs from local farms are available in abundance right now which is why I have indexed them for the price comparison. Here’s my view about what’s available….

The Farm House – Al Manzil Souk

The Farm House Dubai - Local, organic veg - www.mycustardpie.com

This little shop has the feel of a rustic farm shop and is supplied by the farms who sell at the Farmers Market. If you have been to the market you’ll recognise owner Robert as the man who squeezes the pomegranates. The shop also stocks other local and unusual produce such as rock salt and camel milk soap. You can buy local eggs, chicken, organic milk (from Organiliciouz), local honey and dried goods. It’s the most locally focussed of all shops and apart from occasional fruit from the region, only sells local, organic produce. Prices for some things are similar to buying at the market – some slightly higher as you’d expect.

Price check: (week commencing Sunday 11th May 2014): Tomatoes = 10 AED per kg,  free-range eggs , potatoes = 10 AED per kg – all local and organic.

Where to find it: At Souk Al Manzil. Easy to park in the underground car park by the Al Manzil Hotel entrance, Downtown, Dubai. thefarmhouse.ae

Greenheart – Al Barsha

Greenheart - My Custard Pie-4

I remember the excitement of visiting Eleanor Kinanes’s first shop when it opened and the awful disappointment when it closed so suddenly. Greenheart is now a much larger business with close relationships with local farms and a thriving wholesale operation. The farm shop is close to the Miracle Garden and opens three days a week – or you can order online from a range of local and imported organic fruit and vegetables or a local veg box. This is the box scheme I’ve used the most and found the produce the freshest as they pick it that morning. Greenheart holds a small market at Comptoir 101 on Jumeirah Beach Road on Saturday mornings at present.  Eleanor is passionate about what she does and very knowledgeable about water conservation – check the website for more details and to book a farm visit.

Price check (week commencing Sunday 11th May 2014): Tomatoes = 18 AED per kg (or 32 AED for 2kg),  free-range eggs = 18AED for 6, potatoes = 18 AED per kg – all local and organic.

Where to find it: Driving on Umm Suqeim street towards Arabian Ranches take the turn off to Arjan, follow the road round and take a left at roundabout. greenheartuae.com

Ripe – Umm Suqeim

While Baker and Spice established the Farmers’ Market and built a community,  Eleanor’s passion to work with farmers has brought many different new varieties into the market (often better suited to the hot climate), Ripe’s energy and marketing put veg box delivery on the map in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They run a number of markets in the UAE although the veg is eclipsed by craft stalls, fast food stands and even a petting zoo at Safa Park. The Ripe shop in Umm Suqeim is calm, bright and pretty and not just about veg. A favourite of the ‘yummy mummy’ crowd it also sells things like cosmetics, ‘Superfoods’, tea, coffee and dairy products (not all organic) as well as a mixture of local and imported fruit and veg. I think you can take away a cup of Raw coffee there too. Ripe has a coding system on their website which shows clearly whether something is organic or local (although not its country of origin) – however at their markets, in their veg boxes and at their shop this is not always apparent so ask before you buy.

Price check (week commencing Sunday 11th May 2014): Tomatoes = 18 AED per kg,  free-range eggs = 15 AED for 6 , potatoes = 15 AED per kg – all local and organic.

Where to find it: Take the last right hand turn from Al Manara street heading towards Sheikh Zayed road. Ripe on the left in the group of shops by the large orange mosque ripeme.com

Other places to buy local, organic veg

Al Shuwib organic farms – you can phone your order direct to this farm (they attend the Farmers’ Market when in season) and they will deliver. 03 732 4114 Facebook

Organic Foods and Cafe – the pioneer and first major supplier of organic foods in Dubai which now has three branches here plus you can order online. It does a thriving business but owner Nils Accad came out quite vociferously in the media against local, organic veg. However, now some local, organic vegetables are now stocked – probably due to customer demand. Price check: (week commencing Sunday 11th May 2014): Tomatoes = 23.50 AED per kg (local potatoes or eggs were not in stock). organicfoodsandcafe.com

Go Organic me – They have been around for a while but recently launched a new website and online ordering. They work with local farms and supply veg boxes of different types including a weekly juicing box. They mix local and imported but all produce is organic. Founder Meenaxy Vashishtha is driven by personal conviction about organic produce. Price check: (week commencing Sunday 11th May 2014): Tomatoes = 27 AED per kg,  free-range eggs = 15 AED for 6 , potatoes = 22 AED per kg – I think these are local (no details on website for individual items).  goorganic.me

Bio Organic – an attractive new store in Tecom which offers an alternative to OF&C. Local, organic produce is stocked but this is not their core business and most is shipped in from Europe and beyond. Price check: (week commencing Sunday 11th May 2014): Potatoes – 22 per kg (local tomatoes or eggs were not in stock). Bioorganicstore.com

Blue planet, green people – the Jumeirah Lakes Towers location means I have never visited this shop although I know they have been selling local, organic veg for a few years and ran a market at one point. You can order from their website and they provide veg boxes too. Price check: (week commencing Sunday 11th May 2014): Tomatoes = 20 AED per kg,  free-range eggs = 24 AED for 12 , potatoes = 24 AED per kg. blueplanetgreenpeople.com

Union Coop also stocks some local organic produce if you get there early in the morning.

Do you shop with the seasons? Are you missing the Farmers’ Market? Have I missed anyone off this list? What do you do when the growing season comes to an end?

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27 Comments
  1. May 17, 2014 8:41 am

    This article is so practical, well-timed and informative – your writing is an excellent bridge between the local farms here, their retailers and consumers like myself. The price comparisons are excellent and very much needed, thank you for sharing those. I can’t believe I’ve totally overlooked the farm shop in Al Manzil – I’ve been hiding under a rock!! Definitely going to plan a trip there to check it out, it’s the closest one to me and seems the one that’s most reasonably priced.

    I caught a glimpse of local organic veggies being sold in Carrefour. It was a small kiosk in the centre of the veggie/fruit aisle, with just a handful of veggies though sadly wrapped up on styrofoam trays. Have you seen those?

    • May 17, 2014 8:50 am

      There’s one more supplier I know I’ve missed out. They were at the Farmers’ Market on the very last day and yes, all wrapped in stryrofoam and cling film. I am trying to find out the details and will add if I do. Thanks for kind comments – sadly only a few short weeks left of local, organic produce *weeps* – but look at the choice available now compared with 4 years ago.

  2. May 17, 2014 9:48 am

    Very interesting post, although I doubt I’ll be visiting Dubai. I never imagined imagined Dubai having so many artisan outlets….the one named Al Barsha sounds like a Glaswegian threat:)

    • May 17, 2014 12:24 pm

      Any passengers in my car will now be treated to a Glaswegian rendition of Al Barsha every time I drive past it. Love it Roger…

  3. May 17, 2014 9:50 am

    LuLu is also selling organic fruit and veg, not a huge choice but you can get it. There fresh herb counter is also really good.

    • May 17, 2014 12:30 pm

      Thanks – I forget about Lulu because I don’t shop there; will amend my post to include.

  4. sarahhedonista permalink
    May 17, 2014 9:51 am

    Wonderful. Great guide Sally – I haven’t seen one up recently, and this will come in handy, especially now the farmers market on the terrace is shut for summer.

    • May 17, 2014 12:31 pm

      Had to share one last veg pic!

  5. May 17, 2014 9:55 am

    Great post – local farm shops are something I love about the UK, so it’s great to see so many options cropping up here!

    • May 17, 2014 12:31 pm

      That’ll be my next stop – can’t wait to get to the Stroud Farmers Market in July.

  6. May 17, 2014 10:07 am

    Great post. Wonderful!

  7. May 17, 2014 11:21 am

    What a great article for anyone living in Dubai and interesting for this Londoner to see what’s available to you. Wonderful photos as always!

    • May 17, 2014 12:32 pm

      Thanks – I love looking at other people’s shopping choices too :)

  8. May 17, 2014 11:52 am

    Such a useful list. I love the price check. I’m bookmarking this page!

    • May 17, 2014 12:34 pm

      I’ll try and do a price check again when the season starts again. The market is so reasonably priced (no middle man) that it’s difficult to go back to buying at shops.

  9. May 17, 2014 11:59 am

    Your posts like this reveal a side of Dubai that I’ve never experienced on my visits but am determined to the next time I am in Dubai! X

    • May 17, 2014 12:34 pm

      If you come between December and April I’ll take you to the Farmers Market, Deena – it’s a very different side of Dubai.

      • May 17, 2014 1:37 pm

        It’s probable that I will be making a trip around then and would be delighted to join you for a visit to the farmers market- thanks Sally x

  10. May 17, 2014 1:55 pm

    Brilliant – let’s have a market breakfast and you can meet some of the Dubai food bloggers under the palm trees.

  11. May 17, 2014 7:23 pm

    I love reading your posts and seeing glimpses of Dubai, it’s changed so much though!! Organic food was unheard of when I lived there!!

  12. Rasminah permalink
    May 17, 2014 8:12 pm

    Wooww. Was wondering wat to do wer to order from the past 2 days, since my veggies from the farmers market are almost getting over, thanks to ur post, i think im a lil less worried now. And yess carrefour does hav a local organic section now wich mostly has jus 1 or 2 items but veery reasonably priced and somtimes out of stock. Thanks again.

  13. May 19, 2014 1:16 am

    Must pass the link for this on to my friends over there as I know they miss the veg

  14. ramblingtart permalink
    May 19, 2014 1:25 pm

    I grew up eating kohlrabi in Canada and my favorite ways to eat it are raw, cut in sticks (like carrots), or grated in a coleslaw type salad. Deeeelicious! :-)

  15. May 24, 2014 9:37 pm

    What a great resource you’ve created for your Dubai friends! I’ve always been jealous of your outdoor market but even though that is shut for the season you still have absolutely brilliant alternatives. Who’d have thought? PS How are you surviving exam season?

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