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Michael Scaturro


Shoppers in an indoor open-air market with a glass roof and stained-glass windows.
Photo: Mertxe Iturrioz via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

On a recent morning at Malaga’s Mercado de Atarazanas, shoppers passing through the hall’s 19th-century glass-and-iron lanes wore masks and stalls bore signs in English and Spanish: “Don’t touch the food.”

It was hard not to. Southern Spain is Europe’s fruit and vegetable basket, sending produce around the European Union. But the best of this bounty — much of it grown by small farms receiving EU subsidy money — tends to stay in Spain for local consumption.

A Malaga-grown tomato, gnarly in yellow and red hues, burst with such succulence that I ate it in one go. Then there were the local avocados, and peppery local arugula picked a day earlier, mixed together in a salad with a truffle cheese. A second cheese approximating parmesan, and an olive oil from groves just a bike ride away, rounded out a meal with figs, plums, and two loaves of freshly baked bread. I bought enough groceries for a healthy lunch and dinner — for less than the price of two McDonald’s burgers in Anytown, USA. It’s an example of what food can be like when governments support sound policies.