Organic fruit and veg

After a month in the States this summer eating amazing pesticide-free local fruit and vegetables both in upstate New York and in the D.C. area, I decided I’d try to change the way I eat my greens in Madrid. Neither the CSA model, which has spread like wildfire across the United States and Canada, nor local farmers markets really exist in Spain (or Madrid, at least) to the extent that they do on the other side of the pond. Generally the produce you can get in Spain is quite good, and much of it is from somewhere in the country, but it’s not always easy to know where it’s coming from, or how many pesticides have been used to grow it. I do have a good natural foods store in my neighborhood, and there are a number of these throughout the city, but the produce has never looked particularly great.

So this month a friend and I have ventured into the world of weekly organic fruit and vegetable boxes. While these are not exactly CSA, they are an opportunity to buy boxes of seasonal, organic produce from farms. Both places we’ve ordered from have been just under 300 miles from Madrid, which is not incredibly local, but relatively speaking, it’s not bad. The first was Daiquí, a farm in Ourense, Galicia (northwest of Madrid), where we paid 25 euros (including delivery to my flat) for a 10 kilo box that included Swiss chard, apples, green beans, adorable little green peppers, potatoes, a huge zucchini, a beet, and lovely heirloom tomatoes. All of it was really delicious, and very fresh. I’ve just checked the Daiquí website, and it seems that you can no longer request the box, you have to order things by weight, like an online store. Though I’m guessing the seasonal box will make a comeback.

At any rate, we’ve now signed up for four boxes from a farm in Lleida, Cataluña (northeast of Madrid) that has a lot of promise. It’s called Recapte, and you can sign up for a minimum of four boxes and as much as a weekly box for a year. Each box is 30 euros, also including delivery to your house. What I like about Recapte is that every week they post the available fruit and vegetables on their website and you can choose the 10 things that you want in your box (you have a choice of more than double that number). You can also take a week off by notifying them that Monday.

We received the delivery from Recapte today. It was much greater in quantity than last week’s box from Daiquí and included—as requested—apples, peaches, pears, tomatoes, carrots, rainbow chard, cucumbers, lettuce, red peppers, and sweet potatoes. It all looks quite good and I can’t wait to start cooking and eating it.


8 Responses to “Organic fruit and veg”

  1. 1 Enrique Thursday, 16 October, 2008 at 12:15 am

    What about the traditional covered markets, like Mercado de San Miguel next to the Plaza Mayor? Or the Boqueria in Barcelona? Is the produce there not from individual farms / organic / etc.?

  2. 2 Tom Thursday, 16 October, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for this info. It’s very hard to find decent fruit and veg (or meat, for that matter) in most Spanish supermarkets and I’ve been wondering about the availability of organic veg boxes for some time.

    Covered markets are all very well but many of them have limited produce on Saturdays, which is the only time my wife or I would ever be able to go. Markets in general in Spain seem to be very much tied to a concept of ‘wifey stay at home and go to market every day’ which is frankly ridiculous.

    I’ve signed up for my Recapte buyer number but I must say that the price is a little off-putting. My local, privately-owned store has pretty good organic veg and I’m pretty sure that I don’t spend €30 a week there on it. Maybe I do. Anyway, I’ll give it a go in November and report my results here.

  3. 3 Katie Thursday, 16 October, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Enrique: those markets, as far as I know, do not sell organic produce, nor do they sell from individual farms. I think they get deliveries from trucks like the supermarkets do. In general, the scarcity of organic fruit and veg—especially in mainstream vendors—stems from the fact that there’s very little demand for them in Spain, especially when compared to the U.S. or the U.K. In Spanish villages I’ve seen weekly markets, which I think are probably a bit more local, but in the big cities I get the feeling that the produce comes from all over and is sort of your big farm fruit and veg.

    Tom: Good for you! I’ll be interested to hear what you think. As I said, I am sharing the boxes with a friend, so each of us takes half of the bounty home (we don’t live together) and pays only 15 euros per box. Also, you can always ask Recapte to deliver a box every other week—there’s a lot to eat.

  4. 4 andrew Friday, 17 October, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Demand for organic produce is falling in the UK due to the current economical state.

    Speaking of the UK, organic doesn’t always equal “better”. You can find very high quality non-organic produce, so the extra cost for organic doesn’t seem worth it. It’s more a status thing in the UK than truly caring where your produce comes from :).

  5. 5 Margaret Wednesday, 10 December, 2008 at 12:18 am

    For me the best quality and priced Organic is in Las Ventas Ecológicas, the top floor of the Mercado de Las Ventas…run by the Ayuntamiento and all local and certified…although seems like a ghost town entre semana. They do entregas a domocilio, are stating up online shopping and you can call in your order…But then again…I ADORE Mil Historias!

  6. 6 Katie Wednesday, 10 December, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Margaret: I have to say I disagree with your appraisal of Ventas Ecológicas. I went to check it out on a Saturday for the article I was writing for InMadrid (actually I think I found out about it thanks to your blog). It seemed like a poor use of space (why do they have such a small number of items spread over such a large area?) and I couldn’t tell that the products were very local; in fact, the woman working in the produce shop told me they sometimes get things from South Africa. Ecocentro or NaturaSí have a much, much better selection in general.

  1. 1 Why the veg box rocks « España Profunda Trackback on Wednesday, 18 February, 2009 at 7:42 pm
  2. 2 The tortilla story « España Profunda Trackback on Wednesday, 1 June, 2011 at 11:15 pm
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