Organic Vegetables: Can I afford them?

Groceries are without a doubt quite more expensive in the UAE than in many other countries – partly because we live in a desert and most of the products on the shelves are imported. With a few smart choices you can significantly lower the price of your grocery bill and afford many healthy products, particularly organic veggies.

1. Shop Local – Trust Local

Organic vegetables imported from Europe, US, Australia are expensive, that’s a fact. The good news is that between November and June organic farmers in the UAE manage to produce more than 40 different varieties of vegetables.  In terms of regulations and controls the UAE has introduced laws and standards equivalent to those used globally, with the Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology (ESMA) being responsible for inspection and certification. On top of that farms may voluntarily apply for other international certifications. Buying local organic veggies means also getting produce that is fully ripe before they are hand-cut, resulting in better taste and more nutrients. Guess what, it turns out that local organic veggies can also be cheaper than conventional imported ones!

 

Conventional, Imported Organic & Local from the producer
Conventional Cherry Tomato
Holland
13.50 AED / 250 g
Organic & Local Cherry Tomato
The Honest Counter
8.93 AED/250 g
Conventional Red Capsicum
Holland
23.95 AED / Kg
Organic & Local Red  Capsicum
The Honest Counter
21.00 AED / Kg
Conventional Zucchini Long
Holland
22.95  AED / Kg
Organic & Local Zucchini Long
The Honest Counter
16.80 AED / Kg

2. Check the real value of your Box Subscription

Box subscriptions are great because you don’t have to keep placing an order – it just turns up. This is a great help for those who need a little nudge to maintain healthy habits. On the downside, you don’t know what you’ll get each week and you might end up with veggies you don’t normally eat. Looking at value for money, it’s hard to say if this is necessarily more economical than buying products individually. When checking popular UAE box subscription schemes, what stands out is that most of them contain mainly imported products and some mix conventional and organic products in the same box, making it particularly difficult to understand the real value of what you are buying.  If you are willing to swap to local organic produce, you can significantly lower the price of your cart. You’ll be surprised at how many farmers sell their products directly, not only at the farmers’ markets but on line as well.

Mix Organic/Conventional Box Subscription Organic & Local Individual purchase
A mix of organic and non-organic veggies: potatoes, broccoli, capsicum, carrots, cucumber, eggplants, cabbage, leek, fennel, salad. (European / UAE products)

149 AED / 6 Kg
Free Delivery
UAE Box Subscription Scheme

A mix of local  & organic veggies: potatoes, kale, spinach, capsicum, okra, cucumbers, round tomatoes, pumpkin, mint, spring onions, eggplants, salad. (The Honest Counter)

123 AED / 6 Kg
Free Delivery
The Honest Counter

3. Buy directly from those who produce

All the major supermarkets offer an organic range, but depending where you shop the choice could be limited, supply irregular and prices significantly higher than buying directly from the farmers. It’s not easy to spot the difference in price if you only buy a couple of things, after all paying 5 AED instead of 3 is easy to overlook, but the reality is that you could be paying double for exactly the same product harvested by the same farmer! Farmer’s Markets and delivery services help you pay a fair price for your grocery shopping.

Organic & Local From Supermarket Organic & Local From The Producer
Organic & Local Cucumber
Supermarket, Dubai Marina
23 AED/Kg
Organic & Local Cucumber
The Honest Counter
11.56 AED/Kg
Organic & Local Okra
Supermarket, Dubai Marina
39.80 AED / Kg
Organic & Local Okra
The Honest Counter
18.90 AED / 250g
Organic & Local Sweet Corn
Supermarket, Dubai Marina
31.50 AED / Kg
Organic & Local Okra
The Honest Counter
18.90 AED / 250g

 

4. Start a food co-op scheme with your neighbors or colleagues

A food co-op is essentially a group of people who voluntarily come together to place bulk orders directly from producers and suppliers to negotiate better prices and save on delivery fees. Start small by involving just a few colleagues or neighbors, club your orders together and then meet to pick up your share(s). Grow your group over time and enjoy great bonding opportunities with your community!

 

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The comparison is just a snap-shot in time, given that prices fluctuate daily. Our analysis is not all-inclusive and we only looked at the price difference between a kilogram of the same produce in different retail channels.

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