Affordable Feast: Food Costs in Cuenca, Ecuador


Ecuador is a paradise for the palette.  It’s, literally, a foodie’s delight—and at prices even the most cash-strapped ex-pat will appreciate.

There are a number of approaches one could take to this tasty topic, offering advice about the best restaurants in our town of Cuenca, being one among many.  Today, however, I’m writing specifically about grocery shopping, especially in the many indigenous “mercados” around the city.  (For mercado names and locations click here.)

The Friday Market in our neighborhood of Totoracocha

The Friday Market in our neighborhood of Totoracocha

Admittedly, many expats shop exclusively at SuperMaxi—the North American style mega market, the Kroger of Cuenca, if you will.  Others, like us, frequent more affordable places, like one of the many Corals around town—more like the Walmart of Ecuador.  This is where we purchase items like milk, butter, paper products, and toiletries.

However, we try to do the bulk of our shopping at the mercados.

Granted, we’re still perfecting our approach to grocery shopping here in Cuenca.  Being relative newbies in town, we’re fine tuning our skills, learning what to buy where and what prices we should pay.

However, there are several primary differences between going to the market here in Ecuador and doing the same back in North America—especially if shopping at the mercados.

1.      Food at the mercados is fresher.

Clearly, the vegetables have been recently picked.  Notice that soil still clings to the potatoes—that the peas are still being shucked–that bananas arrive, still attached to the  branch.

Did you know that Ecuador grows more than 500 varieties of potatoes?

Did you know that Ecuador grows more than 500 varieties of potatoes?

Most baskets of potatoes cost $1.

Most buckets of potatoes cost $1.

Hands at work

Hands hard at work

Many hands make light work.

Many hands . . . .

More peas!

More peas!

Bananas are still on the branch.  Where all of the "Dole" labels?

Where are all of the “Dole” labels?

2.      It’s organic and locally grown.

Although, here in Cuenca, apples are imported, almost everything else is grown in the region.  Even the sea food has been brought in overnight from the coast, only three hours away.

Ecuador isn’t cold enough to grow them, so apples are trucked in from Chile

Ecuador isn’t cold enough to grow them, so apples are trucked in from Chile

Fresh fish--

Fresh fish–

We love the shrimp we buy at the Mercado.

We love the shrimp we buy at the mercado.

3.      It’s abundant.

If you’re a food lover, you will be amazed at the staggering variety of fruits and vegetables available.  The entire market if visually remarkable—a feast for the eyes, if not for the stomach.

Mercado abundance!

Mercado abundance!

"R" is for "radish."

“R” is for “radish.”

I've taught myself to bake "mora" pies.

I’ve taught myself to bake “mora” pies.

What in Ecuador are called "tree tomatoes."  They are sweet and make a great addition to marinara sauce.  Generally $1 per bad of 10 or so.

These are “tree tomatoes.” They’re sweet and make a great addition to marinara sauce. Generally $1 per bag of 10 or so.

Red onions

Red onions

4.      It’s incredibly colorful.

If you’ve visited a farmer’s market, especially one in a tropical country, you may be aware that the produce is not only artfully displayed, but it’s also strikingly vibrant—rich in hue and intensity of tone.  And the people, as well, are dressed in brilliant reds, blues, and yellows, everyday outfits for the indigenous of Ecuador.

Peppers

Peppers

Egg plant

Eggplant

Even these potatoes are colorful.

Even these potatoes are pink.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Green beans

Green beans

Note the indigenous dress.

Note the indigenous dress.

I thought this woman was incredibly beautiful.  You can't see it in this photo, but she's wearing a "Sponge Bob Square Pants" hat.

I thought this woman was incredibly beautiful. You can’t see it in this photo, but she has on a “Sponge Bob Square Pants” hat.  She wears it well.  Don’t you think?

Hope you enjoy this woman's vibrant everyday dress.  Don't you love the baby on her back?

Hope you enjoy this woman’s vibrant everyday dress. Don’t you love the baby on her back?

5.      It’s more affordable.

But, perhaps, most striking of all are the prices.  This past Friday Sara and I bought nearly a week’s worth of groceries for around $30.

Would this food feed you for an entire week?

Would this food feed you for an entire week?

This included 2 pounds of sea bass ($2.50 per pound) and 2 of shrimp ($2.50 per pound).  We also purchased eggs (10 for $1).

Eggs are 10-12 for a dollar, depending on the size.

Eggs are 9-12 for a dollar, depending on the size.

We additionally got 13 tomatoes for $1, 15 red onions for $1, as well as 10 tangerines for 50 cents.  Oranges are generally 40 for $1.

This bag of tomatoes is only $1.

This bag of tomatoes is only $1.

An entire bag of onions was also $1.

An entire bag of onions was also $1.

Bag of 40 oranges for $1.  Generally, all bagged produce is a dollar.

Bag of 40 oranges for $1. Usually, all bagged produce is a dollar.

Remember, that generally fresh fruits and vegetables, especially organic ones, cost more in the US than canned or frozen foods.  Here we literally pay a fraction of what we would for less healthy foods in North America.  (And in Ecuador, genetically modified crops and seeds are illegal, according to the 2008 constitution.)

How affordable is the food where you live?  Do you pay more for produce, especially the organic kind, than you do for the frozen version of the same?  Is grocery shopping an adventure or a chore for you and your family?

115 thoughts on “Affordable Feast: Food Costs in Cuenca, Ecuador

  1. (big bag & block of ice)
    Its too early for me to be typing. Are you going native, dahling? Do you have all the colorful clothes to go with the brightly colored food. Its all so lovely it just makes my mouth water and my heart want to fly south.

    Like

  2. I love the pictures of the produce and the vendors. You are right–it is so colorful and vibrant and it looks so delicious. I try to buy as much as I can at our Farmer’s Markets locally when I can but never get great buys like those!!! I just shopped at Whole Foods last night to stock the apt here in Houston for Chris and guess what—-we spent $200 and got a mere 4 bags of groceries—-organic and healthy in the US cost mega bucks. Enjoy. Your pictures made me hungry!!!

    Like

  3. I am packing a bag, I am on my way. I love shopping open markets. When living in Singapore this is how I shopped weekly. Though not nearly as inexpensive as most everything was imported, it was nonetheless abundant, fresh and fabulous.

    I loved the picture of the woman, beautiful indeed.

    Like

    • Sara and I loved shopping at the markets in Thailand and Vietnam, as well. Prices were good in both countries, but not nearly as low as they are here.

      Seriously, we’d LOVE you to come. Guest room is waiting!

      Great to hear from you, Val. Hope your week is going well.

      Like

  4. Our costs are not nearly as wonderful. We do a lot of greens and fruits. And it costs a fortune. You make it look wonderful down there. I can imagine the wonderful dishes you are making and feasting upon! Hello and hugs to you and Sara both!

    Like

    • Sara has been cooking up a storm. We are both losing weight and getting healthier. Plus, you burn more calories at this altitude. I forgot to mention that. Hugs to you and David, as well. Hope you guys will come to visit soon. We’re still betting that you will be our first friends guests!

      Like

      • Oh, Colleen, I’m so sorry you’re sick! I suppose you need some of this healthy food. Shall I send a care package?

        Yes, yes, David stopped by. He asked if he needed to bring a blender when you all come to visit–for the green smoothies, of course. Sounds like you need one of those right about now! Hugs you, my dear, and get well soon!!!

        Like

      • That’s what I’m told. I didn’t believe it, but then I did a bit of reading. Seems to be the case, at least for the first couple of months. So many of the expats here tell stories of losing tons of weight. And we, certainly, have lost–without even trying. Come down here and sit–you’ll lose those 7 and then some.

        Like

  5. Kathy,

    I loved this post. Made me want to visit Ecuador —a place I’d never much considered before. I love fruit, and also love seafood–especially sea-bass, so I think it’s a future destination for me! And the tree tomatoes made me salivate. In NZ, they’re called “Tamarillos” and we soak them in sugar overnight, bringing out all the juice. They darken and the juice cannot be removed if spilled on clothing: so beware.
    But what a fun and colorful way to start my day. Thanks so much!

    Hugs from the Bluegrass,

    Nikki

    Like

    • They make lots of juice from the tree tomatoes here, as well. It’s delicious. Fortunately, I’ve not gotten any on my clothes. Thanks for the warning!

      Would LOVE you to come visit. You tell us when. We’ll have a room ready! Seriously! So great to hear from you. Hugs to you, as well–but ones from the Bluegrass are the best!

      Like

  6. Now I’m really jealous. I love going to those open air markets and most Americans don’t know how amazing produce tastes when it’s that fresh. By the end of your grocery week those vegies would be about ready to get shelved in our stores! Your pile of food looks like a CSA box on overdrive, and the seafood is especially a bonus. I hardly get fish anymore because at $14/lb I can’t afford to eat that way often. Glad to see you thriving!

    Like

    • I know! That’s exactly when it would be arriving in your hometown! I thought about that specifically about the bananas. It is incredibly delicious when it’s fresh, and the seafood is amazing. We could NEVER afford to eat like this back in Kentucky. You ought to consider retirement in Ecuador, Lisa! It’s wonderful to hear from you, my friend. When are you going to visit?

      Like

  7. What great information, Kathy, and wonderful photos to go along with it! It seems like this country would be a common destination for retirees on limited budget. It sure beats the over-processed food that is all one can afford here! Thanks!

    Like

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Cindy. Cuenca is a huge retirement destination for North Americans. ABC news did a segment a couple of months ago. Yahoo had a piece on their homepage about it just this week. There’s been recent Huffington Post piece, as well. The only problem for us is that too many Americans tend to drive up prices. I’m told things used to be MUCH cheaper here. I can’t imagine that, but so I’m told.

      So happy you to stopped by, Cindy. I hope your week is going well!

      Like

    • That’s what we say!!!!! However, many Americans go to supermarkets, as the price is still low–not as low–but low comparatively speaking to what they’re used to back home. There the prices are marked and there’s no real language barrier. I suppose it amounts to laziness in some regards. Though sometimes it’s more convenient.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Like

  8. Looking at the market pictures makes me want to leave today. Do we need to bring our blender for making green smoothies? $1800 for both of us. If only we didn’t have to work. We will visit, just not today. Bummer.

    Like

    • Maybe next summer when school is out. I know it’s not cheap to fly. However, it will be incredibly affordable once you arrive. Also, you might try flying from Columbus to Guayaquil, rather than Cuenca. It’s less expensive. It’s a 3 hour drive from there to here, but stunning views through the Andes. That’s what we’ve done. We welcome you whenever you CAN come! Great to hear from you, David!

      Like

  9. For 30 years I have been shopping at Fairway in New York City. It’s essentially a big, brash assault but I’m used to it. The prices for NYC are quite good as is the quality. But yeah, your mercado certainly outdoes my market by a long shot. Fairway’s organic department does cost more, but it’s still a much better deal than Whole Paycheck. Even though your mercado’sprices are amazing, for now, this city slicker will still take Manhattan even though every day my island is becoming more and more the playground for the elite. I just love the energy of this place. But, maybe one day if I can ever scrape together the airfare, I will visit Cuenca.

    Like

    • I can’t say that I can blame you. If Sara and I could even begin to afford to live on your fine island, I know we’d be tempted. Sara loved every minute she lived there, but her housing was paid for. Makes a big difference, as you know. We’d love you to visit some day! Whenever, you can, we’ll be happy to have our favorite city slicker camping out in our guest room! Great hearing from you today!

      Like

  10. that is a great price for the shrimp… most items where i live are sold per pound!

    how great that “NO GMO” is the attitude here.. no ‘jet trails’ either, i was told by someone in quito. now if only we can have ‘no desecration of the yasuni.’

    z

    Like

      • 12:30 midnight and just reached ‘home’ here in costa rica. interesting day!

        i laughed at your reply! i remember the first time i bought shrimp at market, and the guy and lady were talking fast and using the word, libra, which meant nothing to me..

        libra means pound…

        the sierra and the coast are like two different countries, so there is probably a totally-different system in place there.

        Like

      • I know. One of my friends emailed me about the comment I left. I was a bit embarrassed. You know, we wondered why the amount of shrimp or size of sea bass wasn’t larger. Idiots, we are! Linguistic idiots, that is! Thank you so much for mentioning it. It’s funny the mistakes one makes when using or trying to understand a second language. Now, that’s a post idea! Glad you make it safely “home.” Take care and get some rest! I’m off to weigh some sea food!! LOL

        Like

    • I’m so happy to hear from you, Betty! I will have to take another look at your post. But, yes, the women are gorgeous. Wish I could wear the long braids! Visiting these places truly is as much a feast for the eyes, as anything else. And then you get to buy and eat it as well. Does life get any better than that? Thanks for stopping by!!!!!!

      Like

  11. Enjoyed your post as always…was wondering if you would talk sometime about healthcare system there….oh there does seem to be an abundance of food at a more than reasonable price.

    Like

  12. The colors are marvelous. So vibrant and cheerful. I especially love the ladies’ hats. 🙂

    There is a farmers market in my neighborhood every Saturday in the growing season and I love to get my produce there, but it’s not nearly as inexpensive or colorful.

    Is your farmers market open every day?

    Like

    • Great question, Jackie. The large mercados around town are open every day. However, in my little neighborhood, it’s only on Fridays. We loved shopping in our local Lexington farmers market, as well. But, yes, the prices are crazy!!! How wonderful to hear from you, my friend. Thanks so much!

      Like

    • Great question, Jackie. The large mercados around town are open every day. However, in my little neighborhood, it’s only on Fridays. We loved shopping in our local Lexington farmers market, as well. But, yes, the prices are crazy!!! How wonderful to hear from you, my friend. Thanks so much!

      Like

  13. Great post. Mexican markets are quite similar, as I imagine they are throughout Latin America, and as you say, the color, freshness, and enormous quantity of produce is almost overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder, “How can all this food be eaten? ” Hopefully they have some very lucky pigs.
    We are counting the days until our return to Oaxaca! It’s very interesting to read about your new life in Ecuador.

    Like

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Marilyn. Yes, I suspect the markets are similar in most of Latin America. I’d love to know the differences in market prices in various countries, however–to know how they compare. Things are SO inexpensive here, it’s almost mind-boggling. And, yes, the sheer quantity is crazy! Lucky pigs, indeed! Thanks again for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment. Hope you’ll come back again soon!

      Like

  14. Your reasons for shopping at the mercados mirror ours for shopping at farmer’s markets (though sadly, our prices aren’t quite as reasonable). A dozen farm fresh eggs at the Portland market costs $7, on average. So we usually just pick those up at the grocery store.

    Your “Kroger of Cuenca” has inspired me. How about,

    Albertson’s of Ecuador?
    Safeway of South America?
    Piggly Wiggly of Peru’s Neighbor?

    OK, that last one may be a stretch…

    Like

    • Okay, Mark, you’re a hoot! I love all of those options! You get the grand prize!

      But, my God, $7 for eggs!!!!????? That’s criminal. Seriously, how can folks afford that? I think you need to get yourself a few chickens, my friend, and go into business!!

      Like

  15. I absolutely LOVE this. In the 1990s I worked at a farm stand in Southwest Florida, simply because I love fresh produce, love to prepare it, eat it, and love the aromas and colors, of course. I’m packing my bags and moving to Cuenca. My favorite foods at such affordable prices. The colorful produce, colorful clothes, the indigenous peoples, and I speak a little Spanish — well, except for the time I thought my farm stand Mexican coworker said he ate his horse for lunch…. This post is right up my mountain path. Thank you, Kathy.

    And THANK YOU for “liking” my The Scheherazade Chronicles FB page.

    Like

    • Oh, Samantha, LOVE your horse story! What a hoot!

      The produce is, indeed, incredibly affordable. It makes US prices look obscene. One of my blog friends left a comment saying they charge $7 for a dozen for eggs at his Farmers’ Market in Portland. Here I thought Portlandia rocked! Now I’m all disappointed.

      Seriously, you should come down. One can afford to live here on next to nothing, as you might expect. Let me know if you want to visit.

      Wanted to leave comments on your blog, but I couldn’t figure out how. I knew I wasn’t the sharpest, but is there a way. Maybe I was just tired. You are MORE than WELCOME for the LIKE! Take care, my friend!

      Like

      • Kathy, thanks for attempting to comment on my blog. I close comments except on my most recent posts, thus to avoid being inundated by spam — as you may have seen, Part 1 of my current post opens with The Phantom of My Blog (based on the number of readers padding around in there who don’t leave comments, thus remaining unknown) sweeping up the spam. This is the link to Part 2: http://salmonsaladandmozart.com/?p=2790. You can comment here, if you would like. Your initial comment won’t show up until I approve it. After that, your comments will show up as soon as you post them. In my right sidebar you can sign up to receive notification of future posts.

        Yes, that horse for lunch story is funny. Often I’d speak Spanish to my Mexican coworkers, or Mexican shoppers, and they’d have no idea what I said. When I’d double check later what I said, I’d find I said it correctly, but it must have been my weird accent/inflection that they didn’t get. 🙂

        Since my income (Social Security) is next to nothing, Cuenca would be the ideal place for me to live. Meanwhile, I would love to come down for a visit. This entails scraping together crumbs of income or having my books become bestsellers — let’s hope for the latter for both of us.

        Like

      • Where do you live in the US, Samantha? Just curious–sounds like maybe the southwest.

        Here you can get a residency visa with a guaranteed social security income of $800 a month. They like social security the most, since it’s so dependable. (IF only they knew about the SS trust fund!) LOL

        Like I told you, I get SS, as well. I know what it’s like to live on that amount–thus, we are here! So many US retirees (though I’m not old enough for that exactly) are coming here because there SS income allows them to live to well here. If you look at my comment above to Miranda, you will some of the costs. CHEAP–but in a good way.

        Yes, books becoming best sellers–I’m totally on board with that!

        By the way, I should have read your comment more thoroughly before I clicked over to your link last night! I just saw the blue and clicked, planning to come back and do comments this morning when I wasn’t so exhausted. Silly me. Thanks for the mini-synopsis you gave me!

        Like

      • I can’t seem to find where to reply to your most recent reply to me, Kathy, so I will say it here. I live in Delaware, grew up outside Phila., lived in the D.C. area for a few years, then moved to L.A. — Redondo Bch. — where I raised my daughter; then to Naples, Fla.., for a working vacation one winter which lasted 7 yrs, because I liked working at the farm stand (my mother had a villa there). She moved back home to Del.; I came a year later to visit, on my way back to SoCal, and saw she needed help — the beginnings of dementia. So I stayed here in Del. She passed on, at 97, in April 2012.

        While I was caring for her senior citizen needs, I became a senior citizen, and then lost income needed to support our home (mortgage) when she died; thus my interest in a low-cost place to live. I purposefully developed a support group in our town when I moved here — community activities and friends — so they would be hard to leave. Not sure what to do at this point. My daughter and granddaughters live in N. Carolina.

        Anyway, the story of my life in a nutshell. Thank you for visiting my blog. I love comments. If you need more help finding your way around in there, let me know.

        Like

    • Great to hear from you, Heather! I had heard that South Africa was a bit expensive, but I’d love to know how much so. For some reason, I had always imagined things might be more affordable there. Sorry it isn’t. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Like

  16. The mercado looks like such a fascinating place! I love to go to our local farmer’s market, but it offers a fraction of what I see in your photos. Everything looks so pretty and delicious. If I could shop there instead of my local grocery store, I wouldn’t consider me shopping trips to be such a chore.

    Like

    • It really does make shopping fun, and you don’t have to worry that are over-spending. We are able to just enjoy the experience, and Sara experiments with cooking new foods. It’s really cool. Great to hear from you, Terri. Hugs to you, my friend!

      Like

  17. YUM. Yum, yum, yum, yum 😀

    We have a local market which is a lot cheaper than the supermarket; I try to go there every week. But it is nothing like this! I want to visit, badly!

    Interestingly, I was discussing fresh food and cost with an American friend recently. She was saying that it’s a lot more expensive to prepare and eat fresh food, than it is to buy prepared food. How crazy is that?! Here, it’s way cheaper to buy fresh and cook it yourself. It just made me think, well, another obstacle in people’s way (in the US) to keep up cooking skills, and to make healthy food at home. Sigh.

    Loved all the colours in this post. I wear my baby on my back, too, but he doesn’t sit in a red blanket. I should look into getting one of those…

    Like

    • How great it is to hear from you! I’d have to agree with your American friend. Often it’s cheaper to eat at McDonalds than to cook healthy food at home. It’s sad and has led to an obesity epidemic in the US.

      I forget where you’re from though. Would you mind reminding me? I’d love to know what things cost where you are. It’s kind of fascinating to compare prices around the world.

      Take care, my friend. And thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  18. Kathy, I just love these photos showing another way of life through food shopping. Fascinating and such rich colors! All the produce looks tantalizing. I love the women, too. Their clothes are so colorful. I can see decorating an entire room drawing inspiration from any one of these outfits.

    Like

    • Oh yes, wouldn’t that be fun!!!! I know you appreciate color as much as we do. But then you’re Venezuelan. Do you think there is something in the DNA of Latinos that makes them appreciate color more? Or is that a racist assumption? But, yes, decorating a room with these same colors and designs would be wonderful. Don’t tempt me, my friend. LOL Great to hear from you, Monica. Hope you and puppies are having a good week!

      Like

      • Kathy, it’s true. Latinos LOVE bright colors. But then, it looks good against our skin color, so why not? 😉 Funny, you should see my place. Nothing but bright colors here. I’m not as creative as you with the furniture and stair painting, but I still like to bring lots of glorious color into my home. I’d love to see you be inspired by their clothing, and do a post on it.

        Like

      • Oh, yes, of course. Why didn’t I think of that? It looks good against the skin tone! That makes great sense.

        No, you may not do stair painting, but you’ve got me thinking about a new post idea. Our container arrives from the US in about 2 weeks, and then we will really begin decorating our house. We’re mostly bringing books and art. Yes, a 20 foot container of books and art! But it will be fun to mix our things with the colors, textures, and designs we find here. Then I can write about it. Excellent idea!

        Like

  19. Love the colors – of the vegetables and the ladies’ attire 🙂 And my heart melted at the wee one on her back.

    I shop at the farmer’s market when I can but have to police myself into not buying too much, I can’t eat it fast enough. We live 1/2 mile from a 100 year old orchard and I do indulge there = delish!

    This post was a virtual feast for the eyes, thank you!

    MJ

    Like

    • Thanks so much. I know what you mean about buying too much. Unfortunately for us, the market vendors sometimes require that you buy the dollar’s worth in order to get the good price, but then the sheer quantity of food is overwhelming. The other detail is that my Spanish isn’t good enough to negotiate a good price on the smaller quantity. Maybe it is quite doable and I just don’t have the necessary skill. Fortunately neither of us is working yet, so we have lots of time to cook and freeze meals ahead. And Sara is going to start canning.

      Great to hear from you, MJ. Your neighborhood orchard sounds delightful!

      Like

  20. The colors are beautiful! And Lord have mercy are they cheap!

    You know what I noticed more about the dress of the folks indigenous to Ecuador? That the fedora is a very popular head covering there. Jim loves fedoras but does not wear them because they aren’t as fashionable here. Think he’d move to Ecuador for fashion’s sake? lol

    Like

    • I see Ecuador in your future, for the hats, if for no other reason. (That wouldn’t be wishful thinking, would it?)

      Seriously, Sista, I can’t imagine why more Americans aren’t coming here to live. I think so many of us here feel priced out of the US. Hell, our electric bill yesterday when Sara went to pay it was only $12. We spend $5 a month on propane gas for our stove and hot water. Our landline only costs $2 a month. Rent on our 4 bedroom house is only $350. Share these numbers with Jim, my friend! Our water bill last month was less than $5. It was more this month, maybe closer to $10. You don’t need a car, and public transportation is 25 cents per ride. Internet is our big bill–$50 a month, as want something decently fast.

      I miss you, sweetie!

      Like

  21. I’m a Farmers’ Market shopper and the variety of veggies, the prices and the dazzling colors of the food, as well as, the clothing colors at the Mercado are a feast for the eyes. I would love shopping at them and if I were there there’s no chance that I would shop exclusively at a North Amercian style shopping market. I expect I wouldn’t buy much at them at all because what I see above is primarily what I would choose to eat.

    Like

  22. What fantastic markets! The pictures make me want to go and and cook!
    Food in South Africa is generally pretty inexpensive, but fresh ingredients are pretty limited in variety. Lately I am finding more and more variety in the shops. But, compared to most countries I have been to, we are spoiled with our food prices here. Even eating out is quite cheap. You can get a top class steak at a restaurant for the equivalent of less and $10.
    Glad you are enjoying the adventure!

    Like

    • Okay, this is good to know. I was wondering about food costs there. Thanks for sharing the steak detail. Good info. I wonder why it’s hard to get fresh ingredients, however. Do you have any idea?

      At any rate, I’m so thrilled to hear from you. The photos in your last post were superb! Wow, I was blown away–and the ones of you and your girls were darling!

      Take care, my friend! Thanks for reading!!!!

      Like

      • We can get fresh ingredients no problem, but varieties are limited. You can pretty much get one variety of potatoes, heirloom tomatoes are a foreign concept, sometimes even finding shallots are a nightmare. Last time I did a dinner I had to drive around from shop to shop to find fresh sage leaves. I guess it is partly because we don’t have the demand?
        But prices are generally quite good. I even found Peru a bit expensive…
        I still want to visit Ecuador some day, but it may be a while…:-)

        Like

  23. Hi Kathy, I love your pictures! The colors are so vibrant! I’m a fruit, veggie and seafood lover, so I would be in absolute heaven! I live in the DC Metro area,so you can pretty much figure that groceries are very highly priced here. I usually buy organic and fresh, so they cost even more :(. With the planning of my oldest daughter’s wedding, I was too busy to get the few veggies that I usually grow planted. I’m glad to read that things are going so well for the both you :)!

    Like

    • Hi, Sprinkles, it’s wonderful to hear from you! Hope you’ve been doing well!

      Sorry to hear that food costs are so high in the DC area. I suppose, I would have expected as much. And then when you try to buy organic–CRAZY HIGH!

      Congrats on your daughter’s wedding! Has she gotten married yet, or are you all still planning! That’s the most wonderful excuse ever for falling behind on your gardening, right?

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend. And tell your daughter I said congratulations!

      Like

    • Your farmer’s market has stickers!? Incredible. Simply incredible. I mean, I totally believe you, but it’s so sad, isn’t it? Glad you enjoyed the photos. Thank you. It’s great to hear from you, Claudia!

      Like

  24. That looks so amazing my mouth watered! It’s no wonder we don’t like to eat vegetables in America. They’re so sterile in our fluorescent lit stores. There’s something exciting about seeing those veggies in a more natural state. My mind thrills to the culinary possibilities!

    Like

    • I know. It’s pretty cool. I hadn’t even thought about the possible connection between the way vegetables are sold in the US and our disinclination to eat them. Fascinating thought.

      Great to hear from you, Nora. Hope you had a happy Labor Day!

      Like

  25. –A feast for the eyes. The colors, the pink potatoes, the purple eggplant. & I love the women w/ there funky hats. I want to be there! Xxxx KISS for you, K.
    PS. I want to see photos of your pies, please.

    Like

    • So wonderful to hear from you, K! I thought the pink potatoes were too cool for school! Who had ever heard of or seen such a thing?! SO fun! And the hats are a hoot, as well. By the way, I’m going to post a pie photo in your honor this week, so stay tuned! Happy Labor Day——Hugs to you!

      Like

  26. Oh this was a delightful post! I loved reading this and especially looking at the colorful photos. And the indigenous people. You are living one of my alter-egos, for sure. Organic food IS expensive here. Plus, we often have to travel 45 miles for it. Unless it’s summer time and we can pick it out of the garden. Thanks for sharing more of Ecuador with us.

    Like

    • I so often think of you when I’m on one of my Ecuador adventures. I know you would LOVE it here! It’s crazy how expensive even the non-organic veggies are in the US–forget the organic stuff. So sad. Maybe you and Barry can come visit us one of these days!

      I’m delighted to hear from you, Kathy. Happy Labor Day to you, my friend!

      Like

  27. What a wonderful bounty of food at such great prices there. Didn’t know about so many different types of potatoes! A market is also the best place to understand local culture –around food.

    Like

    • I, too, am fascinated by the culture that develops around food. Several years ago I helped create a college writing curriculum around food. It was interesting work.

      It’s so great to hear from you today! Hope you have a wonderful week!

      Like

  28. I am just getting around to your posts as I get ready to pack up from our beach trip and head north to Asheville, NC. Will have to come back later for the others I missed.

    I can see how colorful the fresh food is from your (or Sara’s) excellent photos. Your posts of the life in Ecuador are interesting. Thanks for sharing them. I look forward to reading more.

    Like

  29. Pingback: Healthy Grocery Shopping | Eat and Be Healthy

  30. Wow! I want to move to Ecuador just for the fresh food. It’s so beautiful and colorful and looks amazingly fresh and delicious. We spend about $30 on a week’s worth of produce from a local organic farm that we found recently, but don’t get nearly as much food.

    Like

    • Yeah, the bargains for produce here are simply amazing. Hard to beat 12 tomatoes for $1. Things seem to be reversed here compared to the US, with fresh, healthy foods being a fraction of the price of prepackaged. And the frozen and canned food are very few. I suspect you would love it hear for a number of reasons. So wonderful to hear from you, Robin!

      Like

  31. A post after my own heart (and stomach!), Kathy. I have a major soft spot for photos of produce, so this post nearly did me in. AND THOSE PRICES! I swear, every post I read gets me that much closer to finding flights and heading right on down there! Looks and sounds amazing!

    Like

    • Yeah, the prices really rock. You all should come down during your off-season. Let us know when!

      Interestingly, it’s the healthy foods that are more affordable here–especially compared to imported stuff which tends to be pricy.

      Like

  32. First of all, LOVELY pics!!! We’re headed to Cuenca in a few weeks after admiring it from afar for about a year now. I would love to see as many different food/produce/farming sites as possible while we’re there in order to share some of it on my blog. Do the mercados operate year-round? Also, are there any special holiday celebrations, etc. that we might catch in mid-December? Thanks in advance!

    Like

    • Congratulations on your up-coming visit! I wish I could help you with what’s coming up in mid December. We have not been here for a December yet, but I’m told Christmas here is a HUGE deal. I think they started putting up trees in the malls in early to mid-October.

      Mercados are open all year. However, some of the smaller ones, like the one in my neighborhood, are only open on the weekend or in my case, on Fridays. Larger ones are open every day.

      Great to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment! Hope you’ll come by my site again soon!

      Like

  33. I’m late to this post, but found it while searching for Ecuador food. We will be arriving in 2 weeks at a lodge near Otavalo. My big question: Does a person barter at a food market? Please email me at susan@susanager.com. Bottom line: Lovely and valuable blog post.

    Like

    • Thanks for reading, Susan. Glad you found this post helpful. I will definitely email you. I’ll be curious to know how you like Otavalo, as I’ve not been there yet. It’s wonderful to hear from you!

      Like

    • Thank you, Jennifer. So glad you found it helpful. Don’t know if you will read this response, but I’m wondering if you’re in Cuenca and how you like it so far. Either way, I appreciate hearing from you and hope you’ll come back again soon!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s