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Sourcing Organic Food in Ecuador

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | January 20, 2015

There are plenty of perks that come with living in Ecuador. You’re in one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, for one, and everyday you’re bombarded with fantastic scenery and vibrant culture from every direction. Ecuador is also a great place to get – and stay – healthy.

Healthy living is easy in Ecuador and one of the main things that contribute to this is the local cuisine. Ecuadorian food features plenty of fresh local produce as well as a variety of grains and meats. Wondering how or where to get organic food in the country? You may not be aware, but Ecuador actually puts a big emphasis on food sovereignty in its constitution and is very much against the use of GMOs.

So if you want to eat organic, you’ll certainly have more than a few options here. Don’t expect to find a Whole Foods or anything like that, however – instead there are many farmers’ cooperatives, which means you can get your food straight from the source, as well as small shops.

When buying organic food in Ecuador, it’s best not to rely on food labels. While there are laws governing proper food labeling in the country, the enforcement of such laws is rather lenient. Here are some tips on how to make sure the food you’re getting is organic:

Get to know the farmer. Not only are you forming relationships with locals, but you can also personally guarantee that what you’re getting is organically grown.

Buy products that are for export. Food products that are meant for export have to comply with certain international standards and rules so they will have the proper labeling.

In the small town of Vilcabamba, you’ll find plenty of health food stores. If you’re in the area, do drop by these shops and restaurants: Alivinatu (nutritional supplements, soy burgers, herbal medicines, fresh juices), Frutaria (organic tomatoes, nuts, whole grains, Pitahaya cactus fruit, etc.), Papaya’s Café, and Hosteria Izhcayluma, among others. Cuenca also has several organic restaurants and there’s a Tienda Coopera in San Joaquín.

Or you can choose to grow your own food. Ecuador’s soil is rich and perfect for gardening. If you’ve got a green thumb (or you’d like to have one), growing your own food would be extremely beneficial for you.