Just because you load up your shopping trolley with fruit and vegetables doesn’t mean you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
Knowing what to eat can be exhausting if you’re trying to be health conscious, with many feeling overwhelmed by contradictory information.
Founder of MyHealthy DXB, Louise Steen, and food safety consultant, and author of ‘Food She Blogged’, Judy Sebastian hosted a seminar to bridge the gap between food safety and health – and talked about how to maximise the nutritional value when buying produce.
Louise explains: “Your body is an amazing machine that needs macro [carbs, protein] and micronutrients [including calcium, vitamin C, zinc] to function. When you look in the supermarket you see a lot of food that’s packed, processed and transported a long way. The nutrients diminish over time. For example, if you’re eating a tomato from Holland, it’s come a long way, and been stored. This means it has lost a lot of the vitamins and nutritional value. We need to minimise the loss of nutrients”.
“Even when you buy a melon, for example, at the shop. Vitamin C, when it comes in contact with oxygen, starts getting broken down – so it has different make up of micronutrients than a melon that we’d take home and cut up ourselves”.
So eating fruit and vegetables isn’t just enough. But what’s to be done? “We’re fortunate that more and more local products are becoming available in the UAE – I recommend getting produce from as close as possible, because it minimises the travel and time factors. Though that’s not always possible, try and head to the local farmers’ markets, which are emerging in the UAE. They’re cheaper because they’re locally produced and the carbon footprint is smaller”.
If you can’t get to the next Ripe Farmer’s Market, Louise says there are other alternatives – particularly for the hot summer months when produce is harder to access.
“When you look at frozen food, from a nutritional point of view, it often has more of the micronutrients than the fresh produce from abroad. Let’s look at a green bean for example – the beans are left on the plant for as long as it needs, to absorb everything it needs from the sun and the soil, and then with modern technologies, is frozen, preserving the micronutrients. So if I was to choose between a fresh, but older green bean, and a frozen bean, from a nutrition point of view, I’d opt for the frozen beans”.
But, Judy warns, local isn’t always better – take for example the heavy metals found in fish within the Gulf. “With fish, it’s better to get frozen, from Europe. This is an exception to the ‘buy local’ rule”.
Judy recommends always reading the labels, and doing research: “It’s about prioritising what’s best for you, have the information so you can make the choice.” Louise says a good rule of thumb is to reverse your weekly routine.
Ith the supply of vegetables in the local markets surpassing its demand, prices of many varieties have been witnessing a significant fall. A large quantity of vegetables, including cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, coriander among others, is arriving in the Jadhavwadi wholesale market every day, thereby diluting the prices by about 50 % to 70 % in last 10 -15 days.
Dhashikala Aobre, a vegetable seller based in the Durangpura Aandi, told TOI on Sunday that suppliers from adjoining villages and those from other places are pouring in their agriculture produce in the main market.
“When suppliers bring vegetables from nearby places like Sillod, Kannad, Paithan, Vaijapur, Gangapur, some parts of Jalna, the prices are very competitive compared to the prices of vegetables brought here from far off places,” she said.
As of now, about 70% of the total vegetables sold in the market are being supplied by the farmers based in the district.
“There is no dearth of cauliflower, cabbage, green peas, tomatoes, ladies fingers, coriander and thus its prices are falling every passing day. The trend is likely to continue for next two months,” she said.
“It normally happens in the December -January period when many varieties of vegetables are easily available here. We have a wide range of vegetables available in the market, and in enough quantity,” she said.
In addition to this, the market is also witnessing drop in prices of onion and potato.
Rambhau Jagtap, a dealer in the market, said a fresh crop of onions has started arriving in the market and thus the prices have dropped. “Besides the satisfactory crop of onion and potato, the effect of falling fuel prices is also responsible for slash in prices. We have been spending 10 to 12 per cent less on transportation,” he said.
Potatoes were sold a price of Rs 9 per kg in the wholesale market on Sunday against its previous price tag of Rs 12 during mid December. Onion prices have witnessed fall of Rs 4 per kg in last 15 days. On Sunday onions were available at Rs 16 per kg while early in the second week of current month the market has seen its prive level of Rs 20 per kg.