Friday, December 28, 2007

Eating healthy in Puerto Rico


... is not inexpensive.

True, tropical fruit is fabulously cheap: papaya - 69 cents per pound, a large pinaple 75 cents....
....but vegetables, wow, $ 8 for 6 organic bellpeppers (that's more than a dollar for a bellpepper!) - and only slightly less for nonorganic - imported from USA; $ 6.45 for a small container (less than a pound) of organic tomatoes - imported from Canada ($4.50 for a similar container of nonorganic).
The prices for lettuce and other available veggies are sky high and .... there is no variety, nothing but a few anemic lettuces ( mostly romaine, sometimes iceberg), celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro and a lot of brown tubers with different shapes, which I avoid, presuming them all being - like potatoes and yams - starches rather than vegetables.
Every time I try to shop for veggies I dream of a Whole Foods store with its fabulous assortment of hundreds of kinds of fruits and vegetables, many of them organic, or of Atlanta's World Farmers Market, where veggies are almost as plentiful as at Whole Foods, but cheaper - though far fewer are organic.

What's with all those vegetable imports in Puerto Rico??? Don't veggies grow in the tropics?

Perhaps I'd believe it, had I not seen on zoom's blog that she has a vegetable garden - and my institute also has an organic farm and greenhouses where tender greens (sunflower, purslane, etc.) and - mostly green - veggies, like kale, spinach, etc. are grown.
Next Friday I am planning to visit a local farmers' market in San Sebastian, a small town in the mountains, otherwise famous for its hammock weavers and its splendid, though not easily accessible, waterfall in the jungle.
Meat, on the other hand is cheaper here than in the USA and a lot of it (beef) seems to be imported from Urugway. I wonder whether Urugway meat industry is any better than USA or if that meat is as inedible as nonorganic American meat: equally loaded with hormons, antibiotics etc.
And - for the true health gamblers: the fabulous, fluffy, melting in your mouth Puertorican pastries with almonds and guava cost only 79 cents for a large one. Yumm :-(((
Yesterday afternoon and this morning I inspected the plot for my future garden and found it being in a dappled sunlight in the morning, shaded in early afternoon and in more direct sunlight in the late afternoon. Now, a question to tropical vegetable gardeners: what herbs and veggies I should most luck growing there?

4 comments:

Speaking Boricua said...

Well, first off, once you start making good friends with some neighbors and other Puerto Ricans you won't have to pay for much more fruit. My friends on the island seem to get avocados, mangos, papaya, everything... for free. But yeah, getting American vegetables is difficult in most of the island, probably because most PRicans prefer rice and beans to salad. You are going to have to get used to some different food I suppose.

I don't know much about gardening but by the way most things seem to grow on just about any corner anywhere, I feel sure you can grow anything (tropical) you want in your garden.

Minerva said...

I know what you mean about getting fruit: my formar landlord was a very nice man with a huge garden and once - when replacing my refrigerator, which did not work very well - he heard me caoughing and gave me a recipe for a concoction to make me better: honey with orange and lemon or lime juice, and - since I happened to have no ingredients at home - he brought me fresh, wild, unpastorized honey and tons for fruit: lemons, oranges, chironas ( a cross of orange and grapefruit), some nectarines. Later he brought me papayas, and - my absolute favorite - seagrapes (uvas del mar), which I haven't seen otherwise even at farmers' market.
Rice and beans? May be once in a blue moon: white rice is not healthy and - trying to be a "life foodist" I avoid cooked food anyway.

Jen said...

Happy New Year, Minerva!

Minerva said...

Thanks, Jen. But where is zooms and other experts on caribbean gardening? I need some advice, please.