Farmer’s market vendors said they set up booths in El Paso in response to efforts trying to stem preventable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease – the leading causes of death in the county.
“We cater to a lot of people that have diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure,” said Ulises Cordova, owner of The Green Ingredient, a business that sells health food at a local gym. “We teach them how to eat right and give them different alternatives.”
Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in El Paso County, according to the 2013 El Paso Community Health Assessment.
Cordova and his wife started The Green Ingredient after several family members contracted cancer. They have been vendors at the Saturday El Paso Downtown Art and Farmers Market for the past 5 years.
Cordova wants to teach local residents the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and its benefits. He sells cultured non-dairy products and cheeses for people who say they miss cheese after switching to a vegan diet.
“We used to have a restaurant downtown, but unfortunately we had to close down last July because it’s very hard to run a business with very little margins. We just couldn’t continue,” Cordova said.
With the growth of farmers markets and vegan/vegetarian restaurants in El Paso, Cordova said El Pasoans will be less skeptical about making healthier food choices.
Rosa Carbajal, from Las Cruces, has been selling health therapy and gift products at the Downtown market for several years.
“We started this off as a hobby. We began with veggies, then we bought some chickens and started selling eggs,” Carbajal said.
Carbajal said she is a fourth generation herbalist that grows and sells her own herbs.
Carbajal and her husband sell “soy-rizo”, a vegan non-meat chorizo with the same traditional chorizo flavor. They also sell fresh eggs, which come from hens on their farm.
“We sell out maybe about an hour after getting here. Our eggs are as natural as they can be,” Carbajal said.
Shopper Amaris Castañon said she enjoys going to farmers markets and believes that El Paso is catching up with the health trends that other cities already have.
“I used to live on the East Coast and the East Coast has these events (farmers markets) so often. Farmers markets are a great way to emphasize healthy eating,” she said.
The Downtown Art and Farmers Market at Union Plaza runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, go to visitelpaso.com.