Health & Fitness

The clean eating movement, explained

What's the deal with the trend that's taken the foodie world by storm, and who's leading the charge? We find out

Photo: Her World

It’s a global movement that’s now gone local. More people in Singapore are becoming more conscious about what goes into their bodies.

It comes down to this – people are going out of their way to buy and eat clean. The clean-eating movement began some years ago with the rise of wellness bloggers in the US like Ella Mills (who advocated a plant-based diet), and Madeleine Shaw and Amelia Freer (who both recommended real, fresh food). Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall’s Escape to River Cottage – the chef escaped the city to grow his own greens and raise animals – also helped raise clean eating’s profile. 


Sinking roots in Singapore

By 2014, chefs like Artichoke’s Bjorn Shen, Open Farm Community’s Ryan Clift, and Restaurant Labyrinth’s Han Li Guang were introducing diners to the farm-to-table concept, choosing local and organic meat and produce where possible. As certified health coach and owner of clean-eating cafe Kitchen by Food Rebel Elika Mather says, it is “food closest to its original state”. But is local always cleaner?


Chef Christopher Millar of Stellar prepares a flight of Tajima Wagyu (MS 7-8), which includes heirloom carrot puree, pickled shimeji mushrooms, and mango. Photo: Her World


Most of the time, yes. In Singapore, strict regulations imposed by the authorities on local farmers mean that what’s produced here is largely free of toxic chemicals and other contaminants, says Ivy Singh-Lim, founder of the Kranji Countryside Association. But it’s not organic. If you’re shopping in a supermarket, the easiest way to eat clean is to look for an organic label – which certifies that your food is produced as naturally and ethically as possible. This means no hormone-injected chicken, genetically modified crops, or harmful pesticides. Crops are also grown some distance from contaminants like fogging and car exhaust fumes.


More, more, more

Demand for clean food has continued to explode. These days, consumers want to hear from the growers, to understand what goes into cultivating the produce. Manda Foo, CEO of Bollywood Veggies, says the first Kranji Countryside Farmers’ Market in 2014 drew 4,000 people, a figure that has swelled to 10,000 today. Held every quarter at the D’Kranji Farm Resort, it has dozens of farmers hawking their produce, as well as sellers of artisanal products like nut butters, jams, and oils. Other such markets have spawned, including pop-ups in the heartlands. We talk to the people leading the movement and sussed out the best produce you can take straight from the farm to your table.