The challenge of operating a local produce only restaurant in the UAE

Article published in The National 

 

DUBAI // Offering diners locally produced food is a challenge but a restaurant owner says her efforts to do so has given her environmental insights and taught her about nutrition. [C3 Entrepreneur] Sara Tabana is using recycled materials to build her restaurant, called Roots Bistro, in Silicon Oasis. She will source most of its food ingredients from farms that are less than 100 kilometres away. “It is quite a challenge. Part of the year it is very difficult to get local produce,” she said. “And when the weather is good, getting the ingredients takes a lot of coordination with farmers.

Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 4.14.55 PM“Also, the price of organic food is much higher. But we think that providing that experience would create a community.” Jason Moore, co-founder of Local Food UAE, said locally grown ingredients could add more to the palate than just flavor. “When you understand the difficulty behind getting food to our plates, I think there is a knowledge that is gained about our environment that only eating locally grown food can teach,” he said.

Ms Tabana said she was hoping to source at least half of her restaurant’s produce from the local market, adding that farmers were willing to work with her to produce whatever they could.
“They are really helpful. They ask us what we need, tell us upfront if we have enough time to start planning for these crops and getting the seeds for you,” she said. Ms Tabana also hopes to send her restaurant’s food waste to the farmers for use as fertiliser.

In addition, she has set up a wastewater management system to water the mini garden in the restaurant. “We want people to start thinking about their food, to understand where it comes from,” Ms Tabana said. “We want people to get closer to understanding the process of food and how difficult and taxing it can be on the environment by being more sustainable.”

 

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