November 3, 2009
El Mercado Central is the central market in the capital of Costa Rica: San Jose. It was established in 1880 and has been an emblem of Costa Rican culture since. These days it has evolved into a tourist destination like most of Costa Rica, but it still functions traditionally as well. In the mercado you can find some of the best organic coffee in Costa Rica (from Costa Rica, a country that most certainly does not import it), fresh produce, meats, medicinal herbs and meals. There are over 200 stalls, and it is overwhelming to say the least. But the colors of the ripe fruits and vegetables are vibrant and it got me thinking about how great the place really is. Here, farmers have a consistent and established location to sell their produce. And in the middle of the city at that! Consumers can easily buy all local products from vendors they trust. Yes, it is kind of reminiscent of a farmers market, but it is inside, all year long (well, so is their growing season), and is a part of every josefino’s day to day life. It is true that I saw tons of Pura Vida garb (stickers, t-shirts, mugs, bags) to lure the tourists, but one thing I saw none of was processed food.