One of the great pleasures of living in Spain is the fruit and veg. Year-round, all sorts of stuff is coaxed from root, shoot and tree then sold on to our friends in the north of Europe. Yes, sadly 90% of all the commercial organic produce is for export, leaving us with the sprayed remains. But this needn’t mean that you are condemned to choose between bitter, second-rate, unsprayed veg or the more luxuriant treated kind. In between, there is the locally produced seasonal fruit and veg. You just need to know how to ask and where to find it.
First of all, the markets normally host two kinds of vendors: producers and resellers. Resellers buy and sell veg. They might buy really fresh stuff from neighbours but mostly they will buy from the distribution warehouses.
The producers will have their own fields and produce much of what is on offer. Just feel free to ask ¿Es suyo? or ¿Tiene campo? Most are very proud to show you what they themselves have produced. They can tell you if it has been sprayed (often it hasn’t) and when it was harvested. The other big difference with local produce is the way it is handled between field and market. To keep a cold supply-chain, wholesale fruit and veg is placed in a powerful refrigeration chamber. Some insist that this changes the taste irrevocably. I think that just avoiding the carbon footprint of those big units is a good move.
So, visitors and expats in Spain, buy at the market and be brave – talk to the vendors! The Spanish take their food very seriously and it is a travesty that firms like Mercadona are selling simulations of Spanish food, with all the denutrification and industiralisation that that entails. Buying locally, from the producer, puts money in the pockets of hard-hit Spanish, helping stave off the worst effects of “la crisis económica”. Yoga teaches that we are all united, all really from and going to the same source. Practice the yoga of spending, buy locally produced food.
Now, I am off to feast on pomegranates, mangos, bananas and avocadoes, all of which are in season. Nyam nyam.