Mr friend, Santiago the farmer, phoned early one morning to say his ride to Guadalajara had flaked on him and Santiago was in need of a ride to the Mercado de Abastos in Guadalajara....by 10 a.m.! I quickly rearranged my appointments and 15 mins. later we were on the highway to the big city.
The Mercado de Abastos is the local distribution, wholesale market in the city of Guadalajara, made up of approximate 60 hectares and over 2000 food and grain stalls.
The food stalls are made up of fruit, legume, dairy product, cereals and grain, and various sundry products (abarrotes).
The number of families that are dependent on the general activities of the Mercado de Abastos numbers in the 10,000's and there are approximately 45,000 people who act as commercial and transport agents effected by the daily activity in this market....it is huge!
Food from this market is distributed daily throughout most of Mexico (see distribution map below).
The Mercado de Abastos extends its reach to most of the country. 40% of the product that moves through this market is done in national territories, with exportation making up most of the pie.
The Mercado De Abastos looms large on the Guadalajara skyline
As luck and traffic would have it, we made the food delivery deadline. Santiago specializes in unusual foods, foods that you cannot find easily in Mexico...and his freshly harvested snap peas were a prize that needed to be at the Mercado to a new buyer's stall on time in order to cement this first sale and the provider/buyer relationship.
Our work done, we decided to stroll the market to buy our own produce, check competitor's prices and make a morning of our outing. Santiago's wife Marisela and his son Ivan were with us that day and this was their very first visit to the Mercado. The first thing we noticed was that the Xmas craze had struck....most of the vendor's stalls were decorated in holiday garb.
Ivan Finds His Tree
And the Xmas tree vendors were out enforce...the trees we examined came from Oregon...and make the trek via railroad. We noticed they were surprising fresh.
You have to understand that for a grower of food and lover of nature and its product, the Mercado de Abastos is like being in Disneyland.
And like with most things in our lives, my good friend Ivan showed me just how much fun this market could be.
We were struck with the variety of foods here, with their freshness and low prices. Apparently this is the place to come to purchase beautiful product....in abundance.
Along with food, any product related to or needed for the sales and movement of the food could be found. We were taken with the rapidity and ease this box maker exhibited in his work.
$1,800.00 Pesos Per Kilo!
We were also struck with the effect that technology has on the food. These small round chiles were priced at $1,800.00 pesos per kilo! Apparently they are grown from genetically modified seed and will not reproduce in the wild after the first harvest. Only by having a certain bird eat the seed, passing it through its system can the seeds be replanted and the new plant produce new chiles. Because of this odd symbiotic relationship, the price is astronomical.
After a bit of shopping we were hungry...and Santiago knew just the stall for breakfast. On the way, delicious delicacies tempted our hunger.
We feasted on traditional Mexican breakfast items complete with freshly handmade tortillas and were even treated to a strolling serenade during the meal....ah, life is good!
Post Halloween Pumpkin
As in any retail world, the past items were on sale, such as this post Halloween pumpkin. Ivan hoisted the beauty, just barely able to lift it. I thought it would make a heck of a pie!
As our shopping trip came to an end we happened upon a pipe cleaner sculptor. His figures were extraordinary...so beautifully crafted that he captured the essence of the animals he was modeling. Art and craft are part of our everyday world here. These skills are never taken for granted.
And so Ivan and I chose a red and black tarantula as our take home treasure. It sat on the dashboard for the ride home to the lake...and now adorns Ivan's bedroom, a beautiful reminder of our enjoyable day together. Ivan says I can borrow the tarantula anytime I want. I like knowing we can share the world's gifts.