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Food & Health

From the silver screen to social media, Saudi star celebrates clean eating

Reem Al-Habib is in her element in her vegetable garden. (Photo courtesy: Reem Al-Habib)
JEDDAH: Health awareness has risen in recent years, but do we really know how safe what we consume is?
Saudi director, actress and healthy living advocate Reem Al-Habib, a passionate supporter of clean eating, makes a point of educating herself and others about what she and her family consume through her various social media channels. Al-Habib, who trained as a lawyer, has starred in a number of TV shows on television networks and even in feature films. She is a strong advocate of women starring in Saudi Arabia’s rising film industry and her passion for clean eating is just as strong.
A working mother of two, she grows her own food and has launched her own YouTube channel on clean eating and how to be green. Called Fasila Organics, the channel has 41,868 subscribers and is a treasure trove of content related to gardening, healthy eating guides as and question and andwer sessions
“A good friend of mine hated eating vegetables and always complained of hair loss. I tried to encourage her to grow her own plants but she went for the easier option, buying from the market,” Al-Habib told Arab News.
“Her doctor told her she has consumed a lot of toxins and he was concerned. I became intrigued to know why.”
Al-Habib set out to find out about production processes in farms and to educate others via her YouTube channel.
She talks about how easy it is to grow your own food and gives tips on how to do so. Her video on the dangers that American company Monsanto poses to the agricultural system went viral and has more than 600,000 views.
“One of the most profound issues I have with having to buy produce from markets in my city was not knowing if they’re safe to eat,” Al-Habib said.
“I’ve always wanted to eat healthy and organic, but once I noticed that three-quarters of the produce we buy in markets are sprayed with pesticides, I had other ideas. I knew growing my own vegetables at home was the best option.”
She is currently working on content to teach children how to grow food in schools and is giving workshops in various institutes. She has constructed a school curriculum teaching young children about the health benefits of growing your own food, using their love of the great outdoors as a tool to help kids to stay active and understand how to care for plants.
She says with the right tools, the proper amount of nitrogen in the soil, planting and irrigation, growing your own food is easier than one would think.
“Planting gets you the beneficial bacteria. Rodents won’t attack healthy plants. You’ll only find moths, caterpillars, beetles, lady bugs and other insects that are beneficial to the plants,” Al-Habib said.
“There could be some insects that could be harmful to the plant but aren’t transferrable to humans. I don’t use chemicals and I don’t recommend using them.”
She is very active on social media — she regularly streams live feeds to her 13,200 Instagram followers on her account @reem_alhabib — and engages with her fans. Her passion is evident from her following and in the care she gives to her plants.
In her live feeds, she helps followers better understand supermarket food labels, and promotes healthy products that are tried and tested.
“I create curiosity and educate people. I’m a consumer and I need to know what I’m eating. I ask questions and it’s up to companies to answer them,” Al-Habib said.
“We don’t have a farming culture and we just eat what we can find, so it’s understandable that we don’t know much about farming, but it’s not an excuse anymore.”

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