Unpaid Field Hand travels to Mexico and samples their local food scene

Posted by James Eisenstein on 05/14, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Product sign for organic market

While most of you were able to enjoy winter in February, my wife and I had to go to Mexico for three weeks. I knew we would miss experiencing the well below zero temperatures that promised to devastate our stink bugs population. I also wondered how much I would miss the fresh organic food available here. 

But when we arrived in San Jose del Cabo near the tip of Baja California, I was delighted to find the organic food movement thriving. We were able to walk from our motel in the city’s arts district to an organic farmers market, chock full of vendors selling fresh organic vegetables, meat, and eggs. Almost everything you can find at the Boalsburg Farmers Market in mid-summer was available and all of it organic.

There was one exception, bad news for lovers of kale. It just does not seem to grow there. But its absence was more than made up for by the presence of fantastic, delicious heirloom tomatoes.


Look familiar? This scene at a Mexican farmers market could be from a farmers market in Central PA

The farmers and market officials we talked to were just as committed to organic, chemical free agriculture as our local organic growers. How encouraging to learn the “Agrifood Movement” exists in more and more places around the world.


Horatio manages the San Jose organic market

In some ways, San Jose del Cabo was ahead of us. We had a wonderful dinner in the city at a farm to table restaurant that sourced most of its ingredients from the owners farm. But we were truly delighted to find an organic “farm to table” restaurant just a few miles out of town.

All of the vegetables and herbs were organic and came from the fields we could see from the outdoor dining room, and the meat came from another local organic farm. And, of course, the food was fresh, nutritious, and delicious.


All of the vegetables and herbs served at the restaurant were visible from its outdoor dining area

My local food fantasy envisions more local food served in our restaurants, and it is already happening. But I also long for a full blown farm to table restaurant just like the one we enjoyed in Mexico. Ah ha! My daydream won’t be fantasy for long. Monica and Duke Gastiger, owners of Spats Café in State College, are proceeding with plans to open a farm-to-table restaurant in Ferguson Township.

Tentatively named “RE”, it will be located on the JL Farm in Shingletown, just minutes from State College. It will feature local, sustainably raised foods from local farmers and meat producers, cider pressed on site, and a cooking school and environmental learning center. Duke and Monica want to include solar and geothermal energy, composting toilets, and locally sourced, environmentally friendly building materials. What a terrific idea! And what an exciting addition to the local food scene.

{name} Author: James Eisenstein

Bio: Unpaid Field Hand at Jade Family Farm | Former Penn State Professor

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