We’re shining our spotlight on the amazing team members, collaborators and industry partners who are helping to make the day a little brighter. This month, meet Yael Mejia, Strategic Advisor for Fruitful Day.
What part do you play in the Fruitful Day story?
I have been working in the Middle East for seven years with a focus on bringing the best of local & regional organic and conventional farming to people residing here. I launched Baker & Spice and the first farmer’s market (The Farmers’ Market On The Terrace) in the UAE, where food lovers can truly enjoy food, shop and learn. I work alongside the Fruitful Day team sharing my knowledge about accessing the best produce that the region has to offer.
What makes the UAE and the wider region stand out in terms of fruit?
The UAE is known for growing sensational dates – we have the perfect climate conditions. Today, there are melons and watermelons being grown in the UAE by organic farmers – in small quantities, but excellent flavour. The wider region is known for producing excellent fruit, with a range of climate and soil conditions, not to mention varieties and traditions. Let’s not forget that many of the varieties of fruit we know and love today have entered into our diets from the East. The origin of citrus and many of the stone fruits we grow around the world is China.
What are the hidden gems from the region?
Right now we are looking forward to old variety Washington navel oranges from Lebanon. The orange is green on the outside and pale yellow on the inside – it’s difficult to find a better tasting orange. We continue to buy the most amazing grapes from Iran and we know you adore them, you keep writing to tell us! In July we found white apricots with a green-pink skin and they were so sweet. The avocados from Lebanon, figs and pomegranates from Turkey, cherries from Syria and Iran. Afghan pomegranates from Kandahar are known to be amazing. The list goes on!
Why do you love your job?
I find the business I am in fascinating and endlessly challenging. It is clear that the way I look at food and its origins is influenced by my palate, and a curiosity about where the food I eat really comes from. This has led me to have some interesting discussions with suppliers. We are trained to make bad choices by the looks of fruit in the supermarkets, while often ignoring incredible produce that looks slightly odd. This is where I step in.
What’s been your biggest business-learning here?
That buying food ethically is actually cheaper.
What inspires you to get out of bed every morning?
It’s simple. The pursuit of good taste.