This is the second part of our tour of an organic farm in Saudi Arabia. The first post focused on the crops, and this post focuses on animals that live on the farm. While some of these animals are required for field work, such as ploughing or bringing in the harvest, the farm also produces 100% organic meat.
I imagined it would be very tough to see animals being raised purely for consumption. However, I found the experience wasn’t as difficult as I thought. Firstly, the animals were not depressed, sad or ill. Their external living environment was clean and comfortable. The animals roam around, see the sun and are not separated from their babies. I think I would prefer to eat meat knowing the animal led a happy life, compared to an animal that’s fed only corn, has never seen or felt the sun and has led a depressing existence. Remember, you are what you eat!
Visiting these animals made me (slightly) conquer my fear of animals. While I love animals, I think they don’t have to be in the same space as humans. By “same space,” I mean that animals should be free to live in a natural state as possible, without human interference. But here I fell in love with a goat that’s native to Syria. The baby goat, called a kid, was so charming. When he saw us, he came straight up to us and wanted us to pet him. It felt like he was sweet talking us, it’s so hard to describe his cute actions. I really wanted to bring him back to Riyadh with me – that’s how much I loved him! Here’s a video of him below! He is soooo adorable!!
There are a lot of pictures below so I hope you enjoy this post. Farming, specially organic farming in Saudi Arabia, is rising in popularity. The perseverance of small scale organic farmers, and their loyal customers, has resulted in people shunning non-organic produce. There’s one more thing I want to add and it will be quite shocking.
The biggest supporters of organic farming and organic farmers are the ultra religious people and the muttawa. While I’ve read terrible posts about what the muttawa do or have done, I can only personally say that these people are pushing organic farming to the mainstream, and raising the ordinary person’s awareness about food. For now, this can only be considered a good thing. Sustainable, local, organic and whole foods…it’s strange but these are important and have been important to people in Saudi Arabia for a while. Another thing you may find surprising is the the muttawa tend to be against big agriculture. They believe in small local communities farming for their needs. When I heard this, I thought this was astonishing! We’re fed this image that the ultra religous group’s sole aim is to “suppress” people, but behind this exterior exits ideas that could be considered both empowering and enlightening.
Anyway, I hope that you will enjoy this post too. I think it’s really important to see where your food comes from and who is producing it. There are a total of 60 organic farms in Saudi Arabia (37 in Riyadh alone) and I’ve visited 12 of them (because of the work I do with them). Some are large, some are small, but what is very clear is the happiest workers have the farm with the best produce.
The next farm that I will visit will be the Watania Farms, and I think I will visit them in December 2013 or February 2014. The journey to the Al-Jouf farms will be very long, as it is 3 hours from the nearest airfield. Unless an airstrip is built before then, we will actually fly to Jordan and then drive down south. Watania is the biggest agribusiness in the Kingdom, and is owned by Sheikh Al-Rajhi. I am really looking forward to seeing what they’ve done over the last twenty years. Of course, my first question will be “Where does all your produce go?” Maybe it’s just me, but it took me months to find the location of the Watania showroom and then every time I went, it was empty. Until then, I still have five updates on our Riyadh farming project to update you on.
Enjoy your first Friday – Saturday weekend!