We speak to Tarek El Gammal - founder of Egypt's foremost online healthy food supermarket - to learn about the importance of labeling, fair trade for local farmers and the difference a good diet can make.
Aside from a spattering of vegetarian restaurants here and there, and a few health conscious labels fluttering about at boutique supermarkets, most of us are reaching in the dark when it comes to choosing what we grab from the shelves and put into our digestive systems. Where is your food being sourced from? What chemicals have been used in them?
In an era where most of the world are more than familiar with the terms synonymous with unhealthy eating, yet still happily munch away at fried processed foods and over-grown apples, it's a blessing that initiatives like Nature's Gift Store have popped up in our city.
Nature's Gift Store (NGS) is an online supermarket founded by Tarek El Gammal two years ago after experiencing a seven-day no solid food detox while back-packing around South Asia. "I found it very hard to source good quality, and healthy food products [in Egypt] and that’s when I decided to start NGS - a place where a health conscious consumer can find all they need."
The website provides a large variety of high quality, natural, chemical-free foods from raspberries to salmon steak to gluten-free pastas and everything in between, delivered to your door, fresh, the next day. Each and every product listed has an in-depth description of where it was grown or caught or raised, and exactly what nutrients it contains. Vitally, almost everything sold on NGS is locally sourced. After two years in this business, El Gammal realised that most of the high quality Egyptian products are being exported and the Egyptian market is left with low grade local and imported products. In order to do so he makes sure the growers and farmers get almost the same profit margin they would make on exports.
The main issues El Gammal sees with regards to the food industry here is there is there is no real monitoring of quality from government entities and there's a huge lack of consumer awareness. Aside from selling, the site also promotes a healthy lifestyle with a whole host of recipes and tips and very soon El Gammal hopes to open NGS as a physical location.
"If we just get higher grade ingredients and cook them differently it could easily turn ones life around, and this already happened to me... People think that healthy food will only give you a healthy body, they never imagine how much it can affect your brain and mental balance."