By Paola Velasco and Francisco Peyret
We live in a completely globalized world that allows us to have products from anywhere in the world. At the same time, however, this globalization has greatly harmed Mexican producers. Think for a moment, where does the food you put on your table come from? Who produces it?
During the pandemic, municipal markets had to contract their activities considerably, while supermarkets and convenience stores such as La Comer, Soriana, and OXXO, among others, remained in full operation under the argument that they provide the population with basic necessities. Likewise, these corporations did not report closures or losses; on the contrary, the pandemic brought them growth—their total income grew 12.9 percent.
In San Miguel de Allende we noticed that during the pandemic, new stores such as City Market, another Farmacia Guadalajara, and OXXOs quietly emerged. Right now, the arrival of a Walmart is in transit in the midst of more shopping plazas. It is totally normal for these types of corporations to arrive in a city that is growing considerably, even though we are in times of pandemic. The population in 20 years has grown at a rate of 30 percent and sectors such as real estate sales, to give an example, this year in six months already sold the same as it sold in 2021.
But how is a market like San Miguel’s reacting, where many of us are fleeing the cities and consumerism, to which we must add that local organic and natural production has grown considerably in the last 15 years like in no other municipality in the entire Bajío? During the pandemic, many of us decided to concentrate more of our purchases in the neighborhood stores. Honestly, in almost all of them, besides finding the commercial brands, we can find tortillas, bread, cheeses, sauces, and a series of products that are made by local producers—and as far as one can notice, it is a small economy that moves. I discovered a grilled cheese, at the best price and with the best quality, in a store in Mexiquito.
There are cases like Gil’s store in Colonia Guadalupe that have gone from being the corner store to being considered a serious supplier in that area of the city. On the other hand, many stores implemented home delivery services. It is estimated that this type of service grew by 25 percent, and expanded the supply of products. Somehow the pandemic forced us all to go to the nearest solutions to stock up every day. San Miguel has always stood out for having groups of consumers who are thinking about health, but also about the social aspects that consumption brings with it. We citizens cannot avoid the arrival of corporations, which in the end we all use at some point. I already see many friends buying wines with great enthusiasm at City Market, but it is important to diversify our expenses thinking about the community, and I am not only referring to the purchase of basic necessities. We must also consider food, clothing, and handicraft businesses.
National Producers and Consumers Fair
Consuming locally is the best motivation we can have—buying directly from the producer makes commerce take place in a perfect cycle, from the hand of the producer to the hand of the consumer.
This year, the 21-year-old National Producers and Consumers Fair returns to La Alameda de Dolores Hidalgo after two years of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the producers of the Cuenca de la Independencia experienced a difficult economic period, so it is expected that the fair will lift their spirits and help producers recover.
Karina Gómez, representative of the REPROCI (Network of Producers of the Cuenca de la Independence), considered that, “[…] this fair will be a reunion with the REMECC (Mexican Community Trade Network), with consumers and with different states. It is a meeting to share experiences, how we have lived, and how to resume the project that had been worked on for a long time but that had difficulties due to the pandemic,” she said.
During those two years, the producers of the Cuenca chose to organize Solidarity Market Sundays, a monthly event in La Alameda where natural and healthy products are offered to the population of Dolores. From August 5 to 7, the twenty-first edition of this fair will be held, whose main theme is «For a dignified and sustainable life.» One hundred and thirty-five producers from Oaxaca, CDMX, Hidalgo, Puebla, Morelos, Michoacán, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Querétaro, Chiapas, and Guanajuato will participate, with a wide range of products such as mezcal, furniture, natural foods, natural cosmetics, honey, and handicrafts at a fair price.
In addition, there will be cultural events, live music, information panels, workshops, and storytelling for children, as well as for adults. There will also be a «greeting to the four compass points» with the ritual of the Tlalmanalli.
The event will begin on Friday at 11 in the morning with the traditional Mitote: a tour of the main streets of the city that will start from La Alameda, where the producers will invite people to attend the fair.
At this fair, the use of REMECC’s alternative solidarity currency ‘Teocintle’ will be promoted among producers. Verónica Torres, a producer integrated into REPROCI, explained that each producer will be given 200 Teocintles with a value similar to 200 pesos, but they can only be exchanged for 30 percent of the value of the products. Although consumers will not be able to exchange Teocintles for products, they will be able to use barter. Margarita Godínez, representative of the REMECC, recommended bringing first consumption products, or basic foodstuffs, to be able to barter with the producers.
Solidarity and community trade in our region.
Godínez explained that community trade has a long history in this region where Tere Martínez, founder of CEDESA, promoted the process of community trade and the solidarity economy both in Mexico and in Latin America. «The REMECC had its beginnings in 1992 but before that, in CEDESA, there was already a process of community and fair trade with all the integrity that CEDESA promotes,» she said. Community trade consists of learning to produce for self-consumption, to later transform raw materials into products that can be preserved, to have food sufficiency, and finally, if there are surpluses, to market those surpluses. “For example, when there are fruits, we transform them into jams to store them for our needs and the surpluses are sent to market, to earn and save.” explained Godinez. Do not miss this fair—and bring something that you can barter.