Could you live in a world without fast food? When we think about fast food, we think of restaurants like McDonald’s or Burger King, but there are countries like Bolivia where they don’t exist anymore and haven’t for many years. The reason behind this is pretty simple: Bolivians feel that a good meal should be prepared with love, dedication, and proper cook time.
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One of the things our Latin American countries share in common is the love for having food markets or “mercados”. Every town has their own fruit market where you can buy almost anything, including, steak, fruits and vegetables, clothes, and even prepared food. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, but if they have a taste for tacos, they will line up in the corner with a street vendor, rather than buy food at a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s. And yes, they will wait in a long line for their food to be prepared.
Bolivia has taken steps to protect its food. When they rewrote their constitution in 2008, they wrote 12 articles about local control over food and laws in resistance to industrial agriculture and an economy too heavily weighted toward commodity crops.
Bolivian President, Evo Morales has rallied against Western fast food and has openly talked about disliking fast food: “The major multinational food companies seek to control the production of food and to dominate global markets by imposing their customs and foods. The only goal of such producers is to generate profits. So they standardize food and drinks, turning them into global foods produced on a massive scale with the same formula. They are not interested in the health of human beings, only in their earnings and corporate profits.”
You would think that Bolivian’s don’t enjoy fast food, but in fact the salchipapa, which is a combination of salchichas and papas, hotdogs and potatoes is a Bolivian delight. Not exactly the healthiest option, but they would eat this in a heartbeat, rather than a Big Mac.
It’s interesting how in the U.S. there are so many laws against street vendors due to the fear of bacteria, but in many Latin American countries, this is the least of their worries. Perhaps this is why we are seeing more and more farmer’s markets in our communities because at the end of the day even though you’ll pick up a snack, you’ll know that you can find fresh fruits and vegetables there too.