Organic Options Enrich Palate of Costa Rica’s South Pacific Coast

  • by crv.staff
  • 25.03.09
  • 10:09 AM UTC

chicolechuga-grdThis series of articles on Costa Rica’s lifestyle and organic food comes to us courtesy of our friend Daveed Hollander at Coldwell Banker Vesta in Costa Rica.

by Daveed Hollander

There’s no question that culinary options in Costa Rica’s South Pacific have become all the more delicious in recent years. The rich variety of national influences that come together to form this cosmopolitan community is reflected in the diverse restaurants that dot the Costanera highway and surrounding hills. With liberalization of trade relations between Costa Rica and Chile and, more recently, Argentina, and new trade agreements with the European Union, it is also possible to find a much wider range of good international wines at reasonable prices. Costa Rica even has its own, pucker, nascent wine processing effort that is sure to improve with age.

One of the most heartening recent developments has been the increased availability of locally produced organic fruits and vegetables. The Ballena coast now boasts two farmers markets that feature fresh organic products by local and expat growers, one in Dominical on Fridays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the other in Uvita on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Nearby San Isidro also boasts a two-day feria, as these markets are called locally, that offers harvests from a growing number of organic producers on Thursdays and Fridays.

It’s no accident that organics are making significant headway in Costa Rica. Like much of North America, Costa Rica has a population that is increasingly concerned about the state of the Earth and the healthfulness of what they eat. A study published in 2007 in the British Food Journal found that Costa Rican organic produce consumers, much like their counterparts in Canada, Europe, and the U.S., tend to be well-educated, upper-income, and willing to pay up to a 20 percent premium for organically produced products. But pro-organic Costa Ricans are determined that organically grown produce should not remain a niche product.

Commercial organic production began in Costa Rica in 1984 among a few pioneers growing berries in Cerro de la Muerte, and coffee and vegetables in Belén de San Ramón and Zarcero. Soon, other small farmers, strapped by the costs of commercial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, began to take notice.

Principal early backers included social committees of the Catholic Church, public and private universities such as the University of Costa Rica and Earth University in their important research on compost-based fertilizers and natural pesticides, and various non-governmental organizations. Then the state got on board.

Next post well conclude this look at organic food in Costa Rica.

Have any favorite foods, restaurants or organic food markets you use when visiting Costa Rica? Share them with us. (Comment below.)

Pura Vida!

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