The Sunday Market
One of the many reasons I moved to Ecuador was to feel more secure about and be closer to my food and water supply. This is a sparsely populated country in which there is a climate (usually within very reasonable distance) to grow any kind of fruit or vegetable imaginable. Fresh, clean, uncontaminated water flows out the ground nearly everywhere you look.
In New York City, my efforts at drinking clean (non-fluoridated, non-chlorinated, etc.) water and providing my daughter and myself with food not sprayed with all kinds of hazardous chemicals, proved a difficult and costly undertaking. While I could get ‘organic’ produce (often shipped in from California or South America), at astronomical prices, it was hardly a trustworthy or ideal solution. I settled on a water delivery solution from a national park in Arkansas that was delivered in 5-gallon class carboys.
Yesterday I went to the local market here in Loja to do my normal weekly shopping. There are several markets in the city like this one. It is a Sunday market that packs into 3 city blocks. Hundreds of vendors, mostly local, family operations selling the fruits of their labor. Fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, herbs, spices, and more.
Yesterday I was able to purchase delicious fresh apples (which reminded me in crispness and flavor of the Vermont apples of my childhood) and potatoes from Saraguro (a cool climate, with a largely indigenous population an hour or so drive from Loja) from an indigenous family who grows them. Among my other purchases (all grown within a few hours of Loja) were multi-color, incredibly tasty eggs from actually ‘free range’ chickens, fish, local, fresh, non-dried beans, pineapples, peas, corn, strawberries, cantaloupe, chard, watermelon, cheese, onions, 2 varieties of tomatoes, coconuts (for coconut water), bananas, tangerines, oranges, carrots, grenadines, garlic, blackberries, parsley, cilantro, and several other fruits, the names of which I don’t know in English, nor had I seen before living in Ecuador.
What an enjoyable morning!
And the prices!! Food here is largely sold according to weight, sometimes quantity. For example, I purchased 25 lemons for a dollar. A big bag of potatoes also cost $1. Fresh delicious coconuts for a dollar each (they will cut them for you if you like). The bag of about 10-15 apples was also a dollar. The oranges were 15 for a dollar. The large block of local cheese from cows that spend their life in enormous pastures grazing on grass was $2. The pineapples (small ones) were 3 for a dollar. Bags of onions for 50 cents, I picked up a cucumber for 10 cents, you get the idea.
All in all, I did a weeks worth of food shopping for a family of 3 for under $60.
And this in not lifeless, flavorless food, which traveled half the world to get to you. This is food bursting with flavor and life!