Ahhhh, food, glorious food. There’s love, there’s hate, there’s desire bordering on the sexual, just for food. But how well do you know your food? Where does it come from? Whose hands have touched it? Or, for that matter, have hands touched it at all? Perhaps it’s only been machines and chemicals that have provided that package of food you take from the supermarket.
I have been very happy to see that farmers’ markets are flourishing across the US, and people are taking a more active interest in the quality, safety and growing methods associated with the food they choose. However, outside the US, farmers’ markets have been the primary source of food for many, many years.
Here in Huanchaco, El Mercado is a daily event. The building opens at 7am, with most of the vendors set up and ready an hour later. You can truly purchase almost anything there. Meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, bread, honey, homemade sauces and more types of vegetables and fruits than I can name or even recognize. Brooms, dog food, hula hoops, a cup of coffee, fresh juice, trash bags and toys.
It’s a warren of rows and stalls, crowded with adults, children, dogs and flies. The vendors arrange their vegetable wares in attractive rows, bunches, and bundles and the colors are exquisite. The meat hangs on hooks, some easily identifiable, like chicken, but other cuts are a mystery. Beef, pork, goat? All that really matters is that the animal was alive earlier this morning, having lived its life in a field, eating a natural diet, and slaughtered, most likely, by hand.
Markets like this exist around the world. It’s the place people go to earn money, spend money, socialize, and nourish themselves, their families, and their communities. I feel so lucky to have El Mercado right down the street.