MOST weeks I am asked by someone ‘Where can we buy organic/ecological vegetables and fruit? It is not as easy to buy them here as it was in England, France, Germany or Switzerland?’
Unfortunately these people who moved to Spain for a healthy lifestyle are correct. Except for a few regions, particularly in Andalucia, it is not as if Spain has a significant presence in European organic farming. But recognise an olive is a fruit and the growth of ecological olive oil is a major factor in the growth statistics for Spain.
Essentially five factors make it difficult to source ecological fruit and vegetables.
• The relatively few farmers who are prepared to produce products without using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and weed killers, genetically modified seeds or growth hormones.
• The fact that it is easier for farmers to export 80 per cent of their produce in bulk rather than sell locally in Spain.
• Many local small scale agriculturalists, some of whom grew things by organic methods even if not officially registered, gave up with the difficulty to sell to local shops and supermarket groups once the major national and international supermarket groups established central buying.
• The complexity of regulations involved in registering to be an organic grower and packer and seller of organic products.
• Spain not using all available European Community grants for the expansion of organic growing because matching the money available on the 50:50 basis required by Brussels was not seen as a national priority compared with the assistance required by all growers for damage to crops by storms, drought and water shortages.
If you are lucky you will have local organic growers selling at farmers markets or operating weekly box schemes with boxes for pick up or delivery. The latter box system is growing but it has a long way to go to meet demand.
So for most of us the best solution is to grow your own. It is not difficult, as seeds, plantlets, ecological fertilisers, insecticides and fungicides are relatively easy to find compared with 15 years ago.
Most importantly you do not need much space as much of a family’s vegetable needs can be met by growing your favourite veggies in builder’s buckets, raised beds, growing tables or veggie plots.
A copy of ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’, or ‘Apartment Gardening – Mediterranean Style,’ will soon get you on your way and avoiding early day problems.
Both books are most conveniently purchased from Amazon Books and The Book Depository.
© Dick Handscombe www.gardenspain.com Sept 2014