This past Saturday we went up to Aguadilla to check out the Festival de aguacate (Avocado Festival) and to just get out of town for the morning. Other than the stagnant heat, what was immediately noticeable was the fact that the majority of the market stands were run by women: women selling food that they grow, women selling food that they make, women giving cooking classes, and women educating kids about plant foods.
We had purposefully arrived hungry and went straight to the brand new IslaPops EATS food truck! Yaribeth Rios started her delicious popsicle company, IslaPops, in 2013, but I was DELIGHTED to find out that this month she's expanded and her delicious, nutritious, on-the-go options now include frozen bananas and salads - LOTS of salads.
We wanted to sample the long list of options, so we ordered four small salads (for $4 each): a sweet Asian slaw salad, a pear walnut cranberry salad, a garden veggie salad - to which we chose to add a homemade veggie sausage - and a vegan potato salad. Everything was super crisp, fresh, and colorful. We then slurped on their coconut popsicles (did I mention it was HOT?!?) while checking out the art on their rad pink truck.
Feeling rejuvenated, we headed over to see the knowledge-dropping mamas of Kale Mamá. Elena Mercedes and Lauren Danner brought together their agricultural and educator backgrounds to found this kickass initiative. They pop up at farmers markets, special events, and even birthday parties to create a space in which to foster science and agricultural education. They make learning about plants and food exciting and interactive, for kids and adults alike! Last Saturday they'd even gotten the Aguadilla restaurant community involved by asking restaurants to donate recipes involving avocado (it was the avocado festival after all.) Elena and Lauren helped kids put the recipes together to make booklets and they used binder rings so that kiddos can bring them back to future Kale Mamá events and add more recipes to their collections.
After we filled our bellies with IslaPops EATS and colored pictures of avocados with Kale Mamá, we went to see what all the fuss was about on the porch of One Ten Thai. Joanna Frey from Back to the Garden PR was giving a cooking demonstration... and vegan chocolate icing was being passed around to sample. Joanna's enthusiasm for beautiful healthy food is palpable and contagious, as the faces of her audience showed. She and husband Asa Frey are doctors helping people to treat illnesses like diabetes with holistic health programs. Be inspired yourself by reading a few of their case studies, showing how people have been able to stop taking certain medications after changing their diets!
On the way back to the car I couldn't pass up a bottle of pineapple-mango hot sauce from Naia of Nueva Cosecha. Naia is at multiple markets each weekend with her little one running around her feet and playing hide and seek with other kiddos from under their market table. This week Naia gifted Oliver some achiote to take home and use as body paint :) We look forward to visiting their farm very soon!
It feels good to be surrounded by women who give life to their community through their food and their knowledge of mother earth. The slow-food and small-farm movements are growing fast in Puerto Rico, and it seems that it's women who are confidently leading the way. Through organized workshops offered by some and open arms offered by others, I'm grateful to have been spending more time with some of the women leading this revolutionary movement back to the land, and I look forward to sharing more about some of their projects on this site. Look for more "Women in Food and Agriculture" posts in the near future.