Searching for Organic

I’m a mom who definitely had the fear of god put into me, that if my son did not drink organic milk, eat grass-fed beef, or avoid all soda products now and forever he would no doubt live a short and very sickly life. Though when I think about it, I don’t think I ever had organic food growing up. My mother discovered TV dinners when she arrived from France to America and it was if the clouds parted and a golden basket of pleasure was revealed. She was a manual laborer, working hard every day on construction sites so I could never hold it against her that she had no energy left at the end of the day to create home-cooked meals. In fact, her rejection of her upbringing was such that even if she had a moment at the end of the day she sure as heck wouldn’t spend it in the kitchen! Plus, those TV dinners were great fun. All this to say, I’m not sure if all the precautions I am now taking will lead to a long and healthy life for my son. But I don’t want to take the risk. That said, I’m finding the search for organic food to be more of a challenge in Mexico.

Apparently there are two schools of thought about organic food in Mexico: One side tells me: “everything is organic. Mexican food is as natural as you get.” The other side warns: Once they became banned in the US, America shipped all toxins south of the border and they’re doing wonders for crops down here! You think a farmer would NOT keep his crops free of pesticide with all the free spray?”

I suppose I stand somewhere in the middle.

IMG_9155
Likely nothing organic about this.
Organic
Forgot I bought these last week and opened the bag. Definitely Organic!

I feel like many of the items marked “organic” in the general grocery stores have traveled from Mexico up to the United States and then back down to Mexico, leaving the organic section looking disheveled, like a second-day shelf of older items. Not appealing. There are organic markets where the coffee looks like it was scooped from a bigger bag of Maybe organic/maybe not organic coffee. Same for rice and beans. The carrots and potatoes marked “organic” look exactly like the ones I walked past in the enormous Tuesday market, (and which I was fairly certain weren’t organic), just priced three times as much. Hmmm…

I did find a package of grass-fed beef (nearly 12 dollars for two small patties), boxed cartons of organic milk (whose price has nearly doubled in the first week I was here, as locals see how willing we gringos are to buy such things), and some dirty little potatoes at a local organic market that surely must be organic. The dirt and size is a dead giveaway. I also bought a package of “organic” cream from a local stand, which was bitter and curdled when I opened the carton at home. Surely organic, and a waste of 8 dollars!

But I won’t by any means give up my quest for a healthy diet. For example, the other day I saw a man scooping fresh milk out of a tall metal churn in the back of his truck. I ran after him down the road and managed to get his card. I didn’t ask if his cows were grass fed, but the fact that it was fresh and not living in a box for months before coming to our home was already a positive. And exploring local growers will make my goal easier.

One person suggested I search for a local chapter of Weston Price to find natural, biodynamic products. Work for anyone? Let me know. There isn’t a chapter in San Miguel… https://www.westonaprice.org/find-a-local-chapter-international/#cr

I’ve also considered other options, like growing a few things in a grow box in my yard. But if peas are all Aiden wants to eat as a green food, then I’ll need a big grow box. Still, I’m open to it.

That said, I’ve noticed a decided lack of insects in my area, which likely means the place was doused with Roundup at one point, maybe yesterday, maybe 8 years ago, the impact is the same. Nothing grows and no insects come about. I’ve tried to buy outdoor flowering plants in an effort to invite bees to pass by, but they give my compound a very wide birth and stick to the abandoned field nearby.

So while there’s no Whole Foods (referred to as Whole Paycheck back at home), or a Trader Joe’s with a big organic section (and frankly, people I live with in Santa Fe still differentiate between what they call “real organic” and “Trader Joe’s organic”), there are some options here in San Miguel.

  • Via Organica and it’s mothership farm, which also gives tours and horseback rides, by the way. Especially greens, milk, eggs and meat. And a darn good gluten-free chocolate cake slice (the latter probably not so organic).
  • A local farm off of Independencia on the right hand side toward the fancy Otomi development by the Presa. Veggies and eggs. Beautiful setting.
  • The Saturday Tosma market at Sano where locals bring their items. Some stands are greatly overpriced; others aren’t.
  • And every day at Sano where there’s still the best-priced green salad bar anywhere in San Miguel. But even they are realizing how much gringos will pay for clean food, and they’re adjusting their pricing accordingly.
  • And then there’s always the few “organic” items at the local supermarkets, La Comer or Soriana. Again, often looking like the clearance section of the market.

As a relative newcomer I’m by no means an expert on things organic in San Miguel; I’m just a seeker of clean food who is very open to corrections or suggestions. I greatly appreciate any feedback or tips anyone can give me. I know I’m not the only one wanting healthy, organic foods for my kid, and maybe if it doesn’t exist already, some of us can start our own CSA! It certainly beats TV dinners. Tho that little florescent cherry pie section still brings a smile to my face!

 

 

3 thoughts on “Searching for Organic

  1. We have learnt a lot from fyvmexico.com when we took her market tour.
    She lived in San Miguel de Allende and I am sure if you contact her she can help you out. Her ebook helped me a lot trying new greens, vegetables and fruits that were not familiar to me. I found it so eye opening talking to her about the different produce. Just like a lot of us understands the importance of learning where our food came from in the USA, it will be invaluable to do so in Mexico. Cutting out of the middle man and buying straight from the farmers takes time but so worth it. It’s by no means is easy, but so worth it for all. Reaffirming to the farmers that we appreciate their hard work, pesticides free cultivating, to the rewards of nourishing our bodies with the cleanest food we can.

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  2. It sounds like it’s difficult to find what you need there. I too strive for organic/clean foods. I grow what I can. I so wish I could have a goat and chickens. I’m seriously considering getting chickens. They make great pets and eat many things like ticks, which are a problem here. Anyway, if you can grow a garden, have a milking goat, some chickens….BTW, love fresh unpasteurized milk! It’s illegal to buy it in a lot of states. We get away with it here by “buying a share” in a cow. Good luck to you. 🙂

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