Opening of Mercado Sano
By Amy Cotler
On October 1 at 9am the largest organic market/store in San Miguel de Allende, Mercado Sano, officially opens its doors at the old Don Pedro hardware store on the Ancha de San Antonio. The store provides a one-stop shop, with a dizzying array of local, natural, and artisanal foods, and groceries to savor there or take out. But Mercado Sano isn’t just about good food and provisions; it seeks to become a community hub, taking the local food movement to the next level.
Organic Mercado Sano
Sat, Oct 1, 9–11am, drinks and snacks
Store hours, 7 days, 8am–8pm
Ancha de San Antonio 123 (old Don Pedro’s)
Parking and Wi-Fi available
Community support and inclusion helped launch the market. From its inception, the generous Don Pedro family leased their store to local vendors, 90 percent of whom are Mexican, rather than sell to yet another luxury hotel venture. The store is managed communally, and its vendors share the rent.
Inclusion means keeping prices reasonable, so everyone can afford good, fair, clean food. “Our policy is to encourage competition to bring prices down. That’s what the organic movement needs. One of my organic lettuce varieties sells for 7 pesos!” says Luc Monzies, founder of Mercado Sano. Inclusion also means engaging leaders in the natural food movement here in San Miguel, like Jorge Catalán, owner of the wildly popular 12-year-old Natura, who has a strong store presence as well serving on the steering committee.
Shoppers will likely recognize many vendors; 20 are from the Saturday Tianguis TOSMA. The first floor sells natural health and beauty products, groceries, and food-related items, like kitchen supplies and produce from local vendors, as well as a bakery and café. And, in deference to the indigenous foods of Mexico, there is an Agua Miel bar, with the beverage made fresh daily. Outside there will be a small nursery, also selling compost.
Walk down the stairs (or ramp) to six international “delicatessen” counters with local meats, cheeses, mushrooms, and regional fish, as well as the Natura Store. At the back sits Bodega Orgánica’s organic juice and salad bar (the first in San Miguel). A long refrigerator with season organic produce from Bodega Orgánica flanks the entire back wall.
A mini international food court crowns the second floor’s center, accompanied with live piano music (and there will be plenty of music elsewhere, too). Taste fresh local and organic tortillas hot off the comal, savor artisanal chocolate manufactured on premises, and lunch at the Italian pasta bar or at the sushi and ramen noodle station. Or take international cooking classes. Sala Semilla—a place for workshops, brunch, and cultural events—sits to one side of the food court. On the other side there’s a lounge for community members with a lending library for books and seeds—the first seed bank/network in San Miguel.
The market also serves as a home base for other kindred organizations, including the new chapter of the international Slow Food movement, the newly formed chef’s association, and the 50-year-old Audubon de México. “More than a place to shop for fresh, healthy food, and green products, Mercado Sano is a center for community engagement. Audubon de México is excited to be a part of this collaborative movement toward a sustainable community. It’s going to be very alive and dynamic,” says April Gaydos, president of Audubon de México.
Mercado Sano stands on the shoulders of the fabulous 6-year old Tianguis TOSMA, now located each Saturday in its backyard, which continues to support 80–100 families. The store team also thanks the family of Don Pedro, Mayor Ricardo Villarreal, and the city’s Office of Economic Development.
The vendors of the store welcome dialog, book and seed donations, and ideas as Mercado Sano continues to evolve. Come join the music, hang out, and eat your heart out!