Your health and the health of your family are connected directly to your collective eating habits and the choices you make while consuming food. You must have heard of or seen organic food in the market, however, you must be wondering how is it possible to completely shift to such healthy food, especially when other foodstuff comes in so much cheaper.
Chef Eric Cousin, the Corporate Executive Chef at the custom-built Yalla Natural Trailer, believes it is just a matter of preferences. The food prepared with organic and natural products is as tasty and easy to prepare as any other food while it is more nutritious and free of harmful to health ingredients, he says.
It is easy and absolutely practical to adopt organic food and adapt your lifestyle around it, says Chef Cousin.
Coming from France, Chef Cousin is currently working with Amlak Sevices on the project, “The Yalla Natural Campaign”, a new initiative that aims to reconnect people with nature in order to live healthier live. The project was launched by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q).
Yalla Natural is part of their ongoing “Sahtak Awalan: Your Health First campaign”, and aims to help all members of the community to boost their health naturally. Giving free organic food recipes and cooking demonstration at the Yalla Natural trailer, a 12-metre custom-built transportable activity and information hub, Chef Cousin says people can get rid of many modern-day ailments by simply adopting organic and natural food in their diet.
“Organic is any produce that is not being fed by fertilisers or chemicals. To have to be an organic garden you have to be free of any fertilisers or chemicals coming from labs and insecticides,” Cousin tells Community, explaining the health benefits of eating organic food.
Farmers, as they have to meet a large demand, inject a lot of hormones into fruits and vegetables so that they look ready and shiny, when actually they are not good for your health because of all these hormones entering your body that disturb its balance, says Cousin explaining why inorganically produced is bad.
“When you eat organic food, the tomato may not be all round or the cucumber not all straight, but it is all natural and it is good for your health,” says Cousin.
He acknowledged that at present organic food is a little bit on the expensive side, but it primarily because of low demand. As the demand grows and farmers produce more organic food, the prices will come down and this type of food will be cheaper.
“Right now, organic food makes up 1.5 to 2 percent of the food in the market but with more awareness and education, as we are teaching the young generation about its huge benefits, it is set to become more popular,” says Cousin.
What happens with the inorganic food is that to produce it in large quantity, corporations have limited time to grow their crops, so they resort to giving them hormones.
These hormones come from chemicals that will, for instance, grow tomatoes in 6 weeks instead of the natural 18 weeks. This way they can produce more. But, in doing so, the chemicals stay inside the vegetables and they can cause cancers and all kinds of diseases in human beings.
Cousin advises that people completely shift to organic food as it is available in all options including poultry. Even here in Doha, you have organic chicken, beef and lamb available in the market. Worldwide, people suffering from various health problems is costing a lot of money to the governments in health and medical expenditures.
“By eating healthier, you feel better, you have less sickness, you live longer and you perform your daily activities in a better way,” says Cousin. At the trailer at the recently-concluded Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF), he invited people to try the two dishes he had prepared from organic food for dinner.
One of the dishes was a penne pasta with baby organic spinach, feta cheese and a quinoa salad, totally vegetarian and completely organic with very low on fat. He said the recipe is very rich in calcium and Vitamins A, B and C.
“It is very easy to prepare at home. You can find all these ingredients in the super markets now. It takes exactly the same amount of time as to cook or prepare them as any other kind of food,” says the chef.
“You can use spices and supplements such as paprika, chilies, salt and pepper but the only thing that is bad for you when you eat junk food is all that fat in it and all those chemicals from the inorganically produced food,” he adds.
Cousin arrived in Doha eight months ago. Since then, he has started a project — “Chef’s Garden,” in Education City. His first task was to build an organic garden to grow fresh herbs. “We have basil, rosemary, lemongrass and also vegetables. We have cucumber, eggplant, tomatoes and we have broccoli which has just come out,” says Cousin. He adds that they invite young people to visit and see how a real garden looks like. At this moment, they have two outlets where they are selling their organic food products. One is the Mathaf Café inside Mathaf Museum and the other is Chef’s Garden inside Education City.
Cousin says the food there is not expensive and is in fact cheaper than most of the restaurants that people go to in Doha.
“We have made a variety of cuisines and recipes all with the local products. We have local lamb, local fish, local chicken, organic vegetables and we do a little essence of Arabic and European food. So anyone can come and try it,” says the chef.
They make Chicken Biryani with a twist besides lamb burgers with basil pastel grown in their garden. They use the “jewels from earth” to prepare their dishes, says Cousin.
Cousin is a fifth generation chef in his family. The lineage of chefs in his family dates back to 1872— his father was a chef and his teacher. The French national has travelled to nine different countries, including USA and Panama. It was in 1992 while working at Plaza Hotel in New York that he first started experimenting with organic food.
“When I became a father and I studied a little bit about how farmers grow and what was the demand side’s effect worldwide on the produce and how it was being abused and how they were pushing nature to grow something that was not natural, I moved to organic food,” says Cousin.
He says he intends to hold awareness sessions worldwide, especially in Qatar which is “such a young but smart country.” He will let people know, particularly the younger generation, that eating healthy food is good and it is as tasty and does not cost more money than junk food.
All recipes at Yalla campaign, he says, are free for people to take home with them to share with their friends and family.
Eating organic means eating less fat, less sugar and less salt. “When you see most sickness around the world is caused by obesity, too much fat and too much consumption of sugar and salt, people will be getting rid of diseases like diabetes, kidney problems and heart problems and they would have a better life by eating organic,” says Cousin.
Source: gulf times