by Marion Nestle
May 19 2011

Food politics, Barcelona style

A reader, Jeff Harpell, comments on my scheduled talk in Barcelona:

I lived in Barcelona last year and the year before….While they are becoming more influenced by American fast food, having both parents work, and buying more from one stop food markets, the lifestyle, social support systems, i.e., healthcare and eating habits still are very different from the USA

….I suspect that the Catalonians are concerned about their citizens’ heading down a path of bad eating habits and how to prevent them. Any thoughts to share?

Three first impressions:

1.  The tourist bureau on La Rambla gives out a free city map courtesy of McDonald’s.  The map helpfully identifies the location of all of the McDonald’s outlets in Barcelona, and its such a relief to know that you don’t have to go far to find one.  I counted at least 10.

2.  The Carrefour supermarket has a meat section unlike any supermarket meat section in the United States. Those unwrapped hams are not cheap (yes, that’s 79 Euros, nearly $140, but it’s a big ham).  Leaving the ham attached to the hoof is an interesting touch.  I can only imagine what the New York City health inspectors might say about them.

3.  The Boqueria open-air food market has the most beautiful cut fruit for sale—something like this would make getting those daily fruit servings a real treat.

More to come!

  • Thomas

    EUR79 are USD110, not USD140. and there are probably a few % of VAT in there as well.

  • Great synopsis of your impressions of BCN! I too was amazed at (and slightly jealous of) the cut fruit selection. I also found it ironic that the centuries old La Boqueria was on Las Ramblas, a touristy strip that now probably has the highest concentration of fast food establishments in Barcelona. Perhaps its presence is a testament to how much the Catalans value real food!

  • When I worked at a certain well-known NYC gourmet shop, we weighed a whole Serrano ham our of curiosity, and it would retail about $350 USD.

  • Jeff Harpell

    La Boqueria is certainly the biggest and most famous, but it’s not the only one. Barcelona has a network of almost 20 neighborhood municipal food markets. Here’s a great example of city government working with food purveyors and its citizens. This is how deep the value of real food runs in the veins. Imagine American urbanites allowing themselves to be taxed to have something similar.

  • they leave the hoof on the ham to keep with tradition, as proof that the meat really comes from the iberic black pig, fed only on acorns.

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