UAE-based sustainability advocates use art and food to raise awareness

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From rescuing left-over food at restaurants, to creating art from seabed litter, UAE-based advocates are hoping to inspire others to work and live more sustainably.

In Abu Dhabi’s fish market, the first thing people see as they walk in is an art installation of abandoned items collected from a shipwreck.

Inspired by days spent at her family’s beach house in the coastal area of al-Dhabiya, visual artist, Ayesha Hadhir, went shipwreck diving every weekend over a period of one year to save some of its sunken objects.

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Called “Al Doobah,” the art installation not only represents the artist’s childhood memories, but also hopes to send a message about ocean sustainability.

"I really wanted to say to the people not to litter, this is the sea, we need to take care of it for ourselves and for our next generation,” said the artist.

“This is something that I want to evolve in my work, where rather than creating something new, finding something that already exists and producing a story or adding to the story with it,” added Hadhir.

Meanwhile in Dubai, executive chef at Teible restaurant, Carlos Frunze De Garza practices another form of sustainability in his kitchen.

To save left-over fruits and vegetables from the trash-bin, De Garza incorporates the items into new recipes, proving that every chef can avoid food-waste while still serving great food.

From making sauces to vinegars, oils and Kombucha tea, the executive chef described sustainability as a “lifestyle in the kitchen.”

"Look at one ingredient or one vegetable, look at how you can use it from the seeds to the core and make everything out of it, you can make peels, you can make salad, the seeds you can give it back to the farmers, who can regrow the seeds, then the cores or the peels, we can make something out of it, we can make oils, we can make vinegars, we can make sauces,” added De Garza.

Dozens of large jars of fermented fruits and vegetables are piled up inside the chef’s kitchen, as he uses his creations to add a twist to his dishes.

“We ferment and make our Kombucha, the liquid (of Kombucha), we use it to make granita (semi-frozen dessert), the core of it, we make it into a powder, which we use for dessert. Basically, everything the zaatar and the blueberry are used 100 percent with the powder and granita,” explained De Garza.

In addition to cooking sustainably, De Garza works closely with farmers as an advocate for sourcing ingredients locally and to make use out of wasted crops.

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