Where to find local organic seasonal produce?
Here is our round-up of establishments in Barcelona where you can find sustainable foods.
In previous articles on this site we explained the keys to sustainable food and what characteristics the produce we consume should have. We pointed out key aspects such as the importance of food from local producers, of that food being organic and, in the case of fruit and vegetables, take into consideration the month it is cultivated in. But where can we find these foodstuffs?
Municipal markets, farmers’ markets and neighbourhood shops
Barcelona has a privileged network of municipal markets. These public facilities provide much of the food for various neighbourhoods and districts in the city. The city currently has 39 food markets where we can find stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, home-made dishes, conserves and pickled foods in a single municipal building. Market stalls tend to be family businesses, run by people who are very familiar with the neighbourhood and who make the markets more than a simple place for buying food, converting them into places where local people can meet and socialise.
Just like municipal markets, neighbourhood shops have years of history behind them in the city. They have been our local food suppliers for years but, like many other local retailers, they have suffered rent hikes and neighbourhood gentrification in recent years, which has forced lots of them to close. Despite that, many continue to supply local people and during the Covid-19 crisis, faced with the growth in online commerce, many of those have joined the open shops initiative to remind local people they can shop with them. Some of these neighbourhood shops specialise in locally produced organic food. You can search for the ones nearest your home on this map.
In recent years, permanent municipal markets housed in permanent buildings have been joined by farmers’ markets. These direct sales spaces are held outdoors in city streets and squares, with the farmer or producer selling their own produce. These markets offer fresh seasonal fair-trade food, produced locally, and socially and environmentally sustainable. Here you can see the seven Farmers’ markets of this type currently held in Barcelona.
Not only can we buy fresh produce in Barcelona, but the city also has an entire network of food projects linked to sustainable cooking and eating. These are bars, restaurants and ready-made meal businesses which not only take into account the quality of the product they offer, but whose practices also respect the environment and the planet.
“When we talk about sustainability, we’re talking about the product, but also the personal relationship with workers, with local people, with institutions and providers. We are also talking about optimising energy resources and avoiding food waste”, explains Sergio Gil, chair of the Sustainable Restaurants Association. The association currently brings together nearly 400 eateries in Barcelona, ranging from community cooking projects to high class cuisine.
Another sustainable eating network which may be of interest is Slow Food Barcelona, where you’ll find cooking and gastronomy projects which prioritise local organic produce using fresh seasonal food and steering clear of food produced using transgenic crops.
‘Pam a Pam’, the map of cooperative and sustainable commerce
Catalonia has had access to a map of its social and solidarity economy for over five years now. Dubbed ‘Pam a Pam’, the project is managed by the Social and Solidarity Network and Setem. The map is a tool for users to discover sustainable and transformational projects in many different spheres, one of which is food.
These are not just projects offering local, organic and seasonal produce, but which are also under the umbrella of a cooperative model, with more democratic structures and where people and care is at the centre. The map currently has 104 drawing pins indicating points in Barcelona in the food sphere, including 56 consumer groups, 12 sales points for ready-made products, 10 for vegetables, 4 bakeries and other establishments.
Cooperatives and agro-ecology consumption groups are collectives which organise themselves to manage group purchases according to shared values, such as organic production, local production or the alternative economy. “They’ve really proliferated all around Catalonia in the last few years to promote an alternative food consumption and break away from food distribution models which stifle farmers”, explains Judit Quintana, head of communication for Pam a Pam.
These are initiatives which are in direct contact with producers, with no intermediaries. Consequently, as Quintana explains, “a more co-responsible relationship is established with those who produce or prepare the food they purchase, conducted in solidarity with the sector and with the goal of consolidating a more resilient model which regains food sovereignty”.
Recent years have also seen a proliferation in initiatives to create Catalonia’s first cooperative supermarkets, with the first experiences in Barcelona, Manresa and now Mataró. These projects are about turning conventional supermarket models into spaces for sustainable consumption, with a democratic and cooperative model to foster good conditions for workers and local producers alike.
“The loyalty of new agro-ecological consumption is a means of responding to the collective interests in a way which is co-responsible with the movement. Everybody can do this with the formula they think is best: group purchasing or consumption cooperatives, supermarkets or cooperative shops or direct sales spaces”, notes Judit Quintana.