Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Amy Cotler: The Saturday Market

Everything I love and hate about the local food movement is rolled into this Saturday market here in San Miguel, Mexico.
Joy — an organic market!  When I first came to this town, 30 years ago, most of the food vendors where not producers, but middlemen, just as they used to be back home. So I love witnessing farmers and artisan food producers hawking their own foods proudly, including distinctive cheeses, tequila, breads and vibrant greens.
Fresh gorditas bake on a griddle with a selection of organic fillings to choose from. In fact, everything here is organic, and that’s a comfort in a region plagued by major water issues and agricultural run off. (And where I spotted bright green pesticide laden water running into a nearby lake and mono-crop rules supreme.)
But what I hate, and hate is too strong a word, the market’s location, tucked into the corner of a giant upscale Rosewood complex, a refuge for the super rich.
More importantly, why are few, if any, locals shopping here?  The market’s patrons are mostly gringos like me. And while we’re lucky to be here, deep into winter, buying organic Swiss chard and fresh cheese, I can’t help but feel sad that in a country so poor — any country, really —  more of this clean, fresh food doesn’t reach locals.
But, I know that movements start slowly, often trickling down. And that when I buy from these culinary entrepeneurs I’m supporting the local economy and a happier landscape. Besides, like it or not, fashion is an important component of many trends, luring folks to better ideas.
Besides, here and back home, where the local food movement is accused of the same elitism,  I’m more cheerleader than crank, advocating for fresh local  foods everywhere I go.
So I’ll return to my shopping and savor my spunky arugula, carrots that taste like, well…Mexican carrots taste very carroty. And I’ll remember that by supporting these hardworking farmers and food producers, we foster a movement here that is likely to grow. And that the land these farmers work is healthy land — farmland Mexico needs. And I hope that one day school children will be eating the food it producers, along with gringos, of course, like me.

Reposted from Amy Cotler: The Locavore Way

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