Friday, June 3, 2011

Campesinos Take Over Plaza Bolívar!

This woman offers pan de yuca, or yucca bread. 
For the past several years, Bogotá has held mercados campesinos, or campesino markets, on major plazas and other public spaces. Probably the biggest and most prominent of the market locations is Plaza Bolívar, which is also Colombia's seat of government. About once a month, instead of protesters, marching police or musical bands, it fills with stalls selling fruit, breads, drinks, even handicrafts.

The market's goal is to cut out the middleman and enable peasant farmers and other small foodmakers to earn more by selling directly to consumers. The peasants need it: Colombia's rural poverty rate appears to be between 60 and 70 percent, according to the most recent figures I've found, with 20-some percent of rural people suffering extreme poverty. Rural people also suffer the worst impacts of Colombia's armed conflict, driving many into the cities, where they often live in poor, violent neighborhoods. 

Peanuts and other grains for sale.
Jellies and preserves


Buy my masato, a fermented drink made from rice and related to chicha.

Even here, there's a protest - against the proposed Free Trade Agreements, mostly the one with the United States. Peasant farmers fear, probably correctly, that the agreements will flood Colombia with subsidized agricultural products. 
Weighing cocoa powder, to be used to make a chocolate drink.
Try some chicha, a fermented drink, usually made from corn. This woman won first prize in last year's chicha festival in Bogotá's La Perseverancia neighborhood

These guys made chicha from both corn and chontaduro

Another chicha maker.
This group of street artists, named Porno Por Si, performed in exchange for fruit. 


More info about the Mercados Campesinos here: http://www.mercadoscampesinos.tk/

or here: http://twitter.com/prensamercados

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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