Are you going to Buenos Aires? Trust me, you need this.
Only the best map of the city. It has a comprehensive list everything healthy and vegetarian/vegan. I wish I'd found it before the final week of my stay. But then again I'd have been stripped from my task of scouting out the vegan eateries for myself.
I was handed the map in a vegan restaurant in Palermo Hollywood. Upon opening my excitement equalled a child at Christmas! It became a holy precious thing to me! Actually, I thought it such a brilliant and useful guide that I decided to investigate its origins.
I made enquiries that successfully led me to Pablo Moscato. Founder of Guía Natural Urbana&Orgánica. The MAP and a magazine portal for 'green' issues in Argentina. He kindly agreed to feed my curiosity and spend some time answering a string of questions. This is what I discovered.
He and Gabriel had had long careers in corporate consultancy, but they were becoming really disillusioned with work that meant little to them. Did little to help. They felt growing unease in their jobs and were slowly becoming to realise their values were upside down. Their interest was turning more and more to a sustainable way of life. When Pablo's first daughter was born he knew he had to start respecting life more. He asked himself 'how do we help people?
The answers followed. Pablo and Alexis wanted to find a way to express the sustainable way of life that they were discovering and moving more towards it. What they were doing was becoming so intrinsic to their lifestyle they wanted to take it further. So they came up with the idea to create ORGANICOOPERS (www.organicoopers.net). Their company offeres project management consulting, content, communication and commercial developments to ethical businesses. They seek to help to generate the awakening of consciousness in every individual who wants to work for a more sustainable way of living and creating business. The company also help sustanible producers get to the market, emphasising purchasing and community. The more they got an idea of the organic market within Argentina the more they saw glaring changes needed to be made. Pablo said'
'But then we discovered that the market needed genuine information to make correct purchasing decisions that will affect positively the planet and all living beings. At this point came to our mind (or I should say, to our heart) the idea of a unique source of genuine information, with all organic and sustainable way of life proposals stores. And this is how the "Guía Natural Urbana&Orgánica" was born as a green map, becoming very quickly a reference for this community and is frequently consulted by the main media of our country'.
And so they put their heads together and they conjured up the idea of a green map - access it online here Pablo and his partner wanted to hand the world of organics to consumers to make it more accessible and eventually, commonplace. Connections began to grow and portenos (locals) found shopping for organic and healthy food increasingly easy. Since the green map was made available there has been a 200% increase in organic produce sold. But the movement still has a long way to go. Jumbo, a large supermarket (a cross between Whole Foods and Walmart) is currently the only supermercado in Buenos Aires that offers an organics section and it is small. There are several small independent stores who supply a range of organic produce . What is so surprising is that Argentina is 3rd organic producer in the world yet only 5-10% is currently bought by Argentinians. The money hungry Government guarantee to exports, the big buyers and not it's citizens. Many producers may adopt organic farming procedures but do not have the seal. As in the UK and the US and I suspect, the majority of countries with organic agriculture, the cost of certification is prohibitive, therefore small producers just cannot afford the seal. This situation needs to change.
Meantime, Dr Gabrielle Cousens, bastion and advocate of the raw food community in the USA, got wind of Pablo and Alexis's work with their magazine Urbano y Organico, and decided to hire ORGANICOOPERS to spread the live food message through the launching of his first book in spanish : "There is a cure for diabetes". Dr Cousens hired Pablo's wife, Lucia, a raw foodist, as an assistant. Following the success of the tour Lucia became one of the main advocates and educators of the life food culture in Argentina. The health movement was gaining attention and helping to educate.
Today ORGANICOOPERS keeps working with its publications and services and Lucia continues with her life food workshops.
But Pablo is not stopping there…his quest continues...
'but our hearts lead our decisions in life...."Nothing is sustainable if our brothers are suffering..." (specially children)'.
ORGANICOOPERS launched "Exploradores Solidarios" feeding young children on the streets of Buenos Aires. Following this Pablo and Lucia saw a need in the small town where they live in Cordoba (San Esteban) so they began their own programme of assistance for local children in need.
My chat with Pablo was fascinating, and I kept him talking for quite some time. I wanted to know how his life had changed since he dropped from the corporate world and took the leap to follow his heart. It manifests itself in all areas of his life. Now they live among fragrant fruit orchards and have found a calmer way of life.
Pablo told me,
'Deepening into this way of life we found that we were reconnecting to our spirituality and there we understood our need to be connected to nature...to God. And this reconnection with God is what gave sense to the changes in my life and the work in ORGANICOOPERS. Last year we decided to move to Cordoba to be not only in connection with nature, but to support the spiritual task of a Monastery at the planetary center of Erks, very important for this period of planetary transition. The tools: service and prayer'.
His story is ongoing, his desire to help make positive changes in his country strengthen with each project he undertakes. This is evidence of what people can do when they listen to what their heart is telling them. But not just listen…but then act. Right now I feel happier knowing people like Pablo are taking positive action.
If you are travelling or indeed, living in Buenos Aires and want to find the healthy places to shop in a sea of tiendas, then do yourself a favour and grab a copy of Pablo and Alexis magazine - And grab a copy of Urbano Y Organico and MAPO For health and good food made accessible! You'll find it in most health stores and cafes… this one for sure. It even highlights the city's bike paths under the Mejor en bici scheme.