Saturday, January 11, 2014

One Packed Day!

JANUARY 10, 2014

Some Fruit and Veggies, a Little Wine and One Fine Show

We embarked on a full day today starting early to visit the Lo Valledor fruit and vegetable market on Friday, its busiest day of the week. This market has 600 owners, covers 74 acres, and employees 330 people. More than $3 billion changes hands per year and all the transactions must be paid using cash, not credit cards or other means of payment. More than 60 percent of the transactions in the market are between the producers and those buying for commercial use.
This market is only a local market…meaning goods not fit for export are sold here.
 If one piece of fruit is bad, the entire pellet, often including 10 or more
boxes, goes back to the producer and ends up at this market. 
An entry fee of $5/car and $7/truck is paid at the gate. 
Each day 4500 vehicles pass through the gates at the market. This looks to equal mass chaos!
The produce looks absolutely delicious!
From 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. the new fruit comes into the market.
Then the gates open for buyers at 6:00 a.m. 
The farmers like to have a little fun at the market.
These two characters are just one example. Carrots anyone??
Anyone want to make some salsa with these peppers and garlic?
Cochayuyo, shown on the left, is a very healthy type a
seaweed that people in Chile often give to babies at teething time
At this market green beans were selling for $.62/lb and chicken was selling or $1.85/lb. We were told at the local grocery store the prices are at least 20% higher than at the market. I saw chicken selling at the local grocery store selling for $2.13/lb and ground beef selling for $3.37/lb.

Following the Lo Valledor market tour we traveled to a local nut farm. Although this farm grew other crops including table grapes, pears, apples, peaches, figs, kakis, squash, pumpkins and wheat seedlings, we concentrated on the nuts. 

Our group in front of the walnut trees with Extension
Advisor, Patricio Almarza Diaz, and the farm owner.
Thirty three of the 80 hectares on the farm are used for walnut production.
Here the farm owner is explaining the damage frost has done to the walnut crop. 
I have never seen a chestnut tree before. The
chestnuts are quite ornamental as they develop.
Average production for walnuts on this farm as been 2 ton/acre with harvests up to 2.8 ton/acre when the climate is right. The average price received is $2.27/lb of walnuts with a profit of $1.14/lb after expenses. 

Only 2.5 million of the 184 million farmed acres in Chile are irrigated.
This farmer uses irrigation on 27 acres of his land.
Following lunch, we stopped at the Undurraga Winery. This winery originated in 1885 with 1.8 hectares. Today the winery has 14 plantations covering 4200 acres disbursed from northern Chile to Patagonia in southern Chile. and is one of the top quality wine producers in Chile exporting to 75 countries. 

We toured the original site of Vina Undurraga.

Our tour guide, David, led on a tour of the vineyards taking use
from grape through the production process to a wine tasting.
Between the vineyards, the gardens that are traditionally a part of the vineyards
in Chili and the mountains in the background, the landscape proved to be quite picturesque.
The dry barrels sell for $1800 a piece to people for ornamental use. 

Underraga has been awarded the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile.
It was one of the four wines at our wine tasting. 
We learned screw caps are the way of the future according to our tour guide. He says this is because with the screw cap the wine can be kept exactly as it was bottled. With the inconsistency of the porosity of the corks, the wine oxidizes changing its color and taste. The poorer the cork quality the more oxidation.

Following the Underraga tour we returned to the hotel to get ready for a traditional evening meal and Chilean show. We watched a spectacular show of historical dances and costumes from the different areas around the country and its peoples. Some of us even received the invitation to join in the show trying our hand at some of the traditional dances. The evening came to an end with the Latin dance party for everyone. Some of us literally danced the night away!!!