Qatar food festival focuses on healthy diet
March 25 2016 10:24 PM
Qatar food fest
Children learn the value of farming at Yalla Natural. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.

By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter

The practice of adopting a healthy diet and an active lifestyle has taken centre stage at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park’s “health court” during the ongoing seventh edition of the Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF).
The health court is among the many attractions of the festival, which runs until Monday. Also attracting a large turnout of visitors are different food establishments found at the All Star Court, Five Star Court, Instagram Court, Qatar-China Court, and Market Court.
Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the festival, chef Yuksel Mutlu, general manager of Qatar Culinary Professionals (QCP), said his group has partnered with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) in organising events like the ice carving competition and demo cooking for young children for this year's QIFF.
“But one of our main goals this year is to support organic farming and local food production because locally-produced fruits and vegetables in Qatar have good quality and are reasonably priced,” Mutlu explained.
“In Qatar, demand for locally-farmed produce is high but the production is low, but supporting local farms is a good start, which is why we need to promote them,” he said, citing the participation of Rashida Farms in the health court.
Other establishments promoting a healthy lifestyle in the health court include Evergreen Organics, MIA Café, Memos Factory, Yalla Natural, Qatar Cancer Society, Kulluna, and RAF Foundation, among others.
Mutlu emphasised that chefs who are members of QCP support organic farming, and as part of the group's corporate social responsibility programme.
“Everything starts with small steps and we are hoping that in the near future there will be more production from local farms and organic food available in the market in Qatar,” he noted.
Mutlu said the price of organic food is still expensive but he estimates that once more farms in Qatar would start producing and selling organic fruits and vegetables, prices would be at least 75% cheaper compared to other produce in the market.
He said the QCP is now conducting research on the nutritional benefits of Qatari food. The results of the study would be released by the end of 2016.
“When we have gathered enough information and when the results are available, we will promote this through our network, the Internet and various social media platforms, and the government through the support from local authorities,” he said.
“All Qatari food is good but it is important for people to know the nutritional facts and food calculations in order to keep a balanced diet. But we would like to know more about which combinations are the best to keep a healthy lifestyle or to support good health by using the right product and recipes,” he further explained.
Mutlu said the QCP is a World Association of Chefs’ Societies-approved platform for professional chefs in Doha and with a membership of more than 300 international chefs from major and five-star hotels in Qatar.
In 2015, the QCP sent the first Qatari national team to a cooking competition for global chefs in Abu Dhabi, where they took home the silver and bronze medal. The team will represent Qatar in the first culinary Olympics in Greece on October this year, Mutlu said.

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