Door-to-door organic

I’ve just taken a first delivery of organic fruit and veg from an almost-local farm – and I’m so excited! I know there’s nothing new about this for consumers in many countries across the world, but, for a consumer in Egypt, it’s brilliant news.

So: here’s to healthy eating!

The veg. are glorious: fresh, tasty and pleasingly irregular in size and shape, especially the carrots. I ordered mangoes too and have 3 supersize orange and red fruit weighing in at a kilo altogether.

Of course, food is frequently delivered to the door here: orders placed with the local supermarket or fishmonger or any one of a zillion fast food outlets are sent out quite efficiently. Motorcycles buzz continually around our town bringing meals or supplies to our neighbours, but it’s not a service I normally use.

What is truly wonderful is to have organic food delivered this way. Bear in mind that there are limited suppliers in Egypt, and it’s a trek to find them. So Desert Lake Farms (situated on reclaimed land off the Cairo-Alex road) is providing a welcome service – and doing it with style.

The eggs from organically fed , naturally raised hens (slogan: “Laid in Egypt”) are beautifully packaged in well-made cardboard boxes; but, apart from that, what I like about the company’s approach is that there is no packaging. The veg. and fruit are weighed and handed over loose in re-usable carrier bags, with the company’s branding prominently displayed and the main slogan “Grown with love in Egypt” also on show.

In another way, I breathed a sigh of relief at the delivery: I took what turned out to be a complicated trip by public transport downtown to the Zamalek district on Tuesday, to do some shopping at the twice-weekly Farmer’s Market at Nun Centre, a health, therapy and yoga centre. Situated in one of Cairo’s most attractive areas, blessed with leafy avenues, French and Italian architecture with touches of art deco, and riverside walks, it’s the ideal place for such a market.

In fact Tuesdays are mini-market days: Two companies only were selling their produce, El Kitchen garden (I think I would dispense with the “El”!) and, again, Desert Lake Farms.

It was an opportunity to stock up on wonderful fresh dates – woody red Zaghloul, dark, soft and sweet Amhaat and crunchy yellow Samani; El Kitchen garden also had salad leaves and celery, and a choice of onions, plus garlic.

I need to go back on Saturday when the full market is open. That means another struggle right across Cairo, by underground metro and taxi, with a long drive to get home at the end. For sure, it will be worth it…

There’s another important aspect to this, a campaign, encouraged by Egypt’s government, for home-produced goods to gain more traction in the economy.

So slogans such as “Grown with Love in Egypt” are right on-target; and there are quite a few companies out there, producing all sorts of items from foods to organic cotton baby clothes to body care products and essential oils. A well-established company called Nefertari has been producing the latter for years under the motto “Proudly Handmade in Egypt” and now has outlets across Cairo and in Alexandria.

So I’ll report back on the full Farmers’ Market after my next visit, with a better overview of the best of local produce, Cairo-style.

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