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With Love, From Chile

A look at another country's culture and customs:

Open-air markets

Charlie Remy / Columnist

Recently, I went to an open-air market in a suburb of Santiago de Chile, where mostly fresh fruit and vegetables are sold.

The one thing I love most about this country is the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables at good prices. In the United States, it's not cheap to eat well. In Chile, healthy food is reasonably priced and actually healthier than in the United States.

I have noticed that Chilean fruit and vegetables are smaller and perish more quickly than United States produce.

I could be wrong, but I think this may have to do with the genetic modification that crops go through in the United States so that produce appears larger, has a certain color and lasts longer. The effects of genetically modified food are still unknown, so I prefer to eat as natural as possible.

The open-air market is something that I would love to have in the United States.

It is open Wednesdays and Saturdays and is located in a public area owned by the municipality of Ñuñoa.

Chile produces almost all of its agricultural products within its own borders.

This allows for a fresher product since the goods don't have to travel as far in order to get to their final destinations.

Exceptions include elite tropical fruit such as pineapples and bananas.

A nation that is as independent as Chile is with the production of its food supply will be very successful in the decades to come.

Gas prices will continue to skyrocket due to fewer and fewer reserves of petroleum (peak oil) and it will eventually be cost prohibitive to ship products such extended distances.

Although it is independent in terms of most food production, Chile does ship a lot of its agricultural products abroad.

These include wine, grapes, apples, pears, cherries and peaches, among other items.

Chilean wines are known throughout the world and are comparable in quality to those found in France and Napa Valley, Calif.

I wonder how Chile will manage to be able to afford to ship its products to such far away places when peak oil hits?

It needs to continue to diversify its economy so as not to become too dependent on agricultural exports.

Many experts conclude that the future of agriculture is on the small scale, closer to where it is consumed.

In addition to fresh produce, there is also a fish stand at the open-air market that I recently visited.

The man who was working at the stand was amazing at filleting and cutting fish.

The dexterity of his hands was truly amazing to watch.

He handled the knife with agility and grace as he quickly chopped through the fish.

It was also quite a graphic scene, since many of the inner parts of the fish were visible.

I plan on continuing to go to the open-air market as much as possible so that I can enjoy the high quality, inexpensive Chilean produce.

The best part of it is that the market is located only two blocks away from where I'm living. ¡Buen provecho!

Contact Charlie Remy at or 278-7247.