Site Search

Wednesday September 1, 2010

Majorca isn’t chickening out of organic farming

In my very crowded local butcher’s shop a German tourist was frantically trying to make herself understood. She wanted to know whether the chickens on sale were organic. Furthermore she was keen to discover whether or not the birds were free to strut their stuff in a carefree environment and were well fed. I translated for the butcher who immediately erupted in laughter along with those standing in the queue. “Tell her, that they are free spirits and eat whatever they want, just like you and me,” she winked.

This sort of comical exchange frequently results in visitors accusing Majorcans of ignorance about organic and environmentally friendly produce. Tourists all too often gripe about the lack of organic sections in many of the supermarkets and the scarcity of organic health food shops but they should do their homework.

As it happens Spain has 1.6 million hectares of organic agricultural land and 25,000 producers, making it the largest organic land area in Europe.

In the last ten years, the Balearic Islands have embraced organic and ecological farming in a big way and now nearly 600 farmers have adopted the new practice. In my town alone, ecological farmers supply many of us with weekly boxes of seasonal vegetables and fruit, and there are well established organic farms such as Finca Son Barrina in the centre of the island which have farm shops and offer organic workshops. It’s estimated that there are 23,000 acres of organic land across the Baleares and already the regional agriculture department has reported a 16 per cent growth in the last year.

Although the organic habit is catching on fast here in Majorca visitors shouldn’t count their chickens just yet. Trying to find information about where to buy such produce is still a struggle and so picking up a foodie guide such as, The Taste of a Place Mallorca, is a good idea in advance of a visit. In order to identify organic meat, grains and vegetables in local markets, a green leaf symbol is displayed on some stalls, and those sellers conforming to national ecological farming guidelines also display Agricultura Ecològica labels on products.

It’s enough to have fervent organic consumers of all nationalities clucking with joy.

Please feel free to comment on this article. All comments are moderated, so it will appear after I have checked it. Thanks!