My time in Colombia has naturally been spent sampling all the local food. After all, to get a taste of a country, you need to literally get a taste. However, during my culinary feast, I’ve begun to wonder how easy it is to find specialty or dietary-specific foods in the city. In North America and Europe, things like organic produce are relatively easy to find – but what about here?
I assumed that demand for organic food is relatively low, and after some research, discovered I was correct – even though Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, in Latin America alone, its organic market lags behind Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. The difficulty is, Colombia doesn’t have an official certification for organic foods in the same way that the USA or UK does, so there’s no way to really know if something is organic. Nonetheless, there are certain spots around Medellín that are likely to sell – and even grow – organic foods. Here’s the lowdown on eating and drinking organic in the City of Eternal Spring.
Calle 8 # 43B-132, El Poblado
Describing themselves as a “socially and environmentally responsible company”, Urbania only works from a grain-to-cup ethos, supporting small, local coffee farmers. They’re best known for their ‘Café Calima’, which is cultivated without agrochemicals and in soil derived from volcanic ash – making the taste phenomenal and the process 100% organic.
Circular 74A #39B-22, Laureles
Working in partnership with an Antioquia coffee farm, Rituales proudly serves three different types of coffee – Pureza, Luz and Paraíso – all grown under completely natural conditions. The coffee is transported to Medellín where the beans are ground above the Rituales café and served daily. Rituales also holds roasting classes and barista courses for those serious about sustainability and sabor.
Carrera 32D #7A-77, El Poblado
A newcomer to the organic scene, Betty’s Bowls also has three types of coffee on offer, all of which are organic and single-origin, from beans matured without the use of pesticides. What’s more, in support of their culture of sustainability, the restaurant only uses biodegradable cutlery.
Carrera 40 # 10A-22, El Poblado
An iconic place to eat in Medellín, El Cielo is fine-dining at its best. Since its opening in 2006, the restaurant has been using organic, fair trade products in its experimental dishes and sensory experiences. Even the décor of El Cielo reflects its values – the plants, leather and wood are all reminiscent of traditional Pasia farms.
Circular 4 #70-84, Laureles
Originally an artisanal bakery, SaludPan is now a store and restaurant specializing in organic food. The menu features a selection of healthy, delicious meals and snack, typically packed with vegetables – many of which are grown on the owner’s farm in Santa Elena. Additionally, every Saturday, SaludPan hosts a market where customers can buy organic nuts, fruits, herbs, wines, beers and seeds to grow their own produce.
Cable a Tierra
Estación Metro Cable Arví
Technically not Medellín but a quick walk from the Arví metrocable sits Cable a Tierra, a quaint hippy lunch place serving a range of flavors and textures sourced from the farm beside the restaurant. Soak in the fantastic views of Parque Arví while tucking into their vegetarian Menú del Día.
Carrera 33 #7A-24, El Poblado
La Chagra celebrates the beauty of indigenous Amazonian culture in a variety of dishes, all artistically presented. The menu includes over 50 ingredients from the Colombian Amazon, which are transformed into edible stories about environmental conservation in the region. In cooking with only organic products, chef Juan Santiago enables people to view the food with the same spiritual connection as that of Amazonian peoples.
Calle 10 #35-14, El Poblado
It’s no wonder Veg Station is always busy. Boasting vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options (including Bandeja Paisa), the restaurant also has an entire section dedicated to organic dishes. The local ingredients add to the sense of Veg Station being an authentically Colombian spot for environmentally-conscious diners.
El Mercado Arví
Estación Metro Cable Arví
Ideal to browse before lunch at Cable a Tierra, the Parque Arví market is open most days and consists of several stalls with goods from rural communities. Most of the products are handmade from organic materials, including an assortment of cakes and sweets, empanadas, coffee and clothing. To top it all off, on weekends, there are usually performances at the market from local musicians and dancers.
Plaza Minorista José María Villa
Calle 55 #57-80, Prado Centro
Packed with literally hundreds of vendors and ideally situated in the center of Medellín, Plaza Minorista is one the busiest farmers markets in the city. Tropical fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, plants, alcohol, clothes, and more can be purchased here; and while it’s not guaranteed that everything is organic, it’s a great place to test your Spanish and ask the vendors! Prices here are always negotiable too, so you’re likely to find a bargain as well as delicious, natural ingredients.
Plaza de Mercado La América
Calle 45 #79A-100, Laureles
Although smaller than Plaza Minorista, Plaza de Mercado La América is equally impressive and a cheaper alternative to supermarkets like Carulla and Éxito. Again, not everything here is organic but the sheer selection of local produce means it’s easier to determine where and how goods have been grown. As a side note, it’s the sole place I’ve seen a sweet potato in Medellín.
Ceres Organic Market
Carrera 37 #10A-58, El Poblado
This Poblado-based store is a true gem for people who only eat organic. Nearly everything is organic, and the range of items available to buy is perhaps the largest in Medellín. Focusing on eliminating toxins and eco-friendly markets, Ceres sells everything from sugar to coconut hemp seeds to personal care products. Not to mention, customers can get a free smoothie if they return the containers from certain items.
Avenida Nutibara TR 39B #77-40, Laureles
Carrera 42 #5 Sur 43, El Poblado
So popular that it now has two locations across the city, Vita Integral is a haven for all things healthy. With a wide selection of 100% natural and organic groceries, the store is so committed to positive living that there’s even a homeopath employee to offer free nutritional advice to customers. It’s also one of the few places in Medellín to find tofu and other plant-based foods.
The Rappi of the organic world, Merkaorgánico is all you need for your weekly shop. The company is dedicated to clean food that values “the wealth and wisdom of ancestors”, and so everything is organic. Deliveries are made between Tuesdays and Saturdays, and there are free organic recipes available on the website.
Did we miss anywhere? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll continue the organic pursuit in Medellín!