Singaporeans live, eat and breathe food. If we’re not pulling out our iPhones and posting our desserts on Instagram, we’re swapping notes over steaming pots of laksa about new finds in Tiong Bahru or the East Coast. But now our choice of eatery has less to do with the herbs and spices used in the dishes, but more to do with how organic the contents are.
But with stories hitting the media of China’s food safety crisis, we want to know where our produce is coming from. From baby milk powder being found to contain industrial chemicals to bird flu being discovered in China’s poultry markets, shoppers are concerned that the plateful of vegetables is doing them more harm than good. Infact, a survey by the world’s largest food and recipe website – www.allrecipes.com – shows that 58% of cooks now choose recipes where they can use organic and natural ingredients, despite the jury still being out in the scientific community on whether organic food is better for you. People are now questioning what additives and pesticides are hitting their shopping basket and they believe the only way they can guarantee that their plump chicken comes free of antibiotics and growth hormones or their greens free of synthetic herbicides, is to choose food that’s organic.
We don’t always know what’s in our food!
Singapore is responding to the trend for organic produce. As well as the fear of unhealthy Chinese imports, we are also questioning the use of additives such as MSG – the man-made flavour enhancer used widely in Asian food – which can cause heart palpitations and numbness.
- With us increasingly keeping our finger on the pulse of healthy living, a multitude of organic restaurants have now opened up across the island, from slow-food favourite Real Food on Killiney Road (www.realfoodgrocer.com) to The Living Café & Deli on Bukit Timah Road (www.balancedlivingasia.com), restaurateurs are now queuing up to give Singaporeans additive-free, nutritious options.
- One restaurant that can guarantee farm to fork service is Poison Ivy. Named after owner Ivy Singh, the Poison Ivy café is set in the middle of her farm Bollywood Veggies (www.bollywoodveggies.com) on Neo Tiew Road. When Ivy launched her farm in 2000, she was one of the few to follow organic principles, but now there are close to 10 other farms distributing locally grown produce in Singapore.
- One of the biggest signs of Singapore’s drive for organic food came with the launch of the farmer’s market PasarBella in home of the former Grandstand. Within its 30,000 square-foot, you’ll find organic vegetables at SG Organic and organic dairy produce at The Organic Grocer, and organic bread at Rabbit Carrot Gun.
It’s clear that people are now searching out organic or locally grown produce. It may come with a small premium, but they believe it’s better to splash the cash now, rather than at the doctor’s office later.
- However, Sabine Seilliere of Sabine’s Baskets (www.sabinesbaskets.com) says that eating organic doesn’t need to break the bank. Sabine focuses on finding locally grown produce, instead of using items that have spent months travelling the world in shipping containers and after receiving numerous requests for organic fruits and vegetables, has added organic produce to her baskets. But Sabine’s goal for her organic collection is to reduce the cost. “I am appalled by the prices of organic food in Singapore. I hope to offer them organic food at a more reasonable price,” says Sabine.
- Blogger Militza Maury of www.ourlittlegreendot.com says, “I realised early on that I couldn’t eat purely organic—partly because of costs, partly because of variety. The journey of trying new things and making conscious choices has made me feel more connected and that feels great.” She recommends that if you’re worried about the cost of going organic to take a look at the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, which highlights the most contaminated foods. Some of the biggest offenders include apples, strawberries, grapes, celery and peaches. If you’re going to swap in a few organic foods, these should be the first in your basket.
However, the Singapore Health Promotion Board say it’s less about eating organic and more about following a healthy diet and eating two portions of fresh vegetables each day. But nutritionist Susie Rucker of Body With Soul (www.bodywithsoul.com) says that if you’re not following an organic diet there is one part of your body you should consider—your liver. “The more toxins you put in your body (processed food, cigarette smoke or alcohol), the more you’re battling with the good minerals and causing your liver extra work.” If your health hasn’t taken a dive, you obviously have a strong liver, but, if you have a weak liver, you’re going to feel tired when you overload it with toxins. So the question is, says Susie, if you’re wondering whether you should adopt an organic diet or not, the question is “Do you feel tired?”
Constantly tired? It could be your thyroid http://www.thefinder.com.sg/body-soul/healthy-living/constantly-tired-it-could-be-thyroid-trouble
By Claire Turrell, Harper’s BAZAAR, June 2014