Farmer’s Markets in Costa Rica – The freshest fruits and veggies.

One of the things we love about Costa Rica is the absolutely insane amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables available all year.

Of course you can get these things all over the world, but can you get them for the same price as here in Costa Rica?

Was it picked fresh this morning?

In large cities in the states you can go to open markets and find nice produce from local growers when in season. The problem is that usually they are not available every week and they have a limited amount of produce to offer due to the limited growing season.

However in Costa Rica you can go to almost any town on a certain day of the week and enjoy a very nice selection of locally grown produce at really low prices. In Atenas the local market sets up on Friday morning and runs until about noon all year.

You can even enjoy samplings of the vendors produce, when they have a fruit or veggie cut open, you can ask for a taste. Mangos are still in season right now (hurry, they are almost all gone!) and you can enjoy many different varieties, sizes and flavors.

Watermelon is a hot item now also. Delicious pineapples are available as well. They come in small, medium and large sizes. Who knew there were three sizes?

In addition to the usual carrots, potatoes and tomatoes there is always an assortment of unusual local fruits and vegetables that you can buy to fully appreciate all of what Costa Rica has to offer. You can try things such as chayote, water apple, mamones, mamones chinos, guayava, various tasty roots, jocote, and the list goes on.

Here in Atenas, local bakers are on site to offer freshly baked items for sale which are delicious. Cinnamon buns, fresh baked breads, cookies, fruit tarts, apple turnovers along with empanadas, enchiladas, pancakes (tortillas) made with cheese and many other delicious items.

There is also a vendor here at the Atenas market that sells garlic. They sell the traditional Chinese garlic that Americans are used to eating and they also sell the much smaller Costa Rican garlic. It is about ¼ the size of the garlic I am accustomed to buying and the difference he says is that the Costa Rican garlic is much stronger.

Vendors sell cheese that they have produced locally at a much lower price than the cheese from the grocery stores. You can buy it by the kilo and it comes in blocks, grated for things like pizzas or grated finely for things like pastas and such.. You can also buy other dairy products like sour cream and yogurt.

If you are hesitant, just ask for a sample, some cheese is much stronger than other cheese. Fresh farmers cheese taste like cottage cheese, but older firmer version of the same cheese can be quite strong.

One of my favorites is the vendor who sells locally grown cut flowers as well as garden plants and shrubs such as orchids, mums, sunflowers, and purslane. They have nice varieties of fresh herbs to plant along with a good variety of outdoor shrubs and even indoor plants.

All in all the experience in these local markets held weekly in Costa Rica is a wonderful way to experience much of what attracts people to this country. The culture, the atmosphere, the people and this wonderful mix of delicious foods.

Written by Audrey Neidlinger and Terry Mills.

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