Most visitors to Costa Rica will quickly recognize the national dish that can be found in any soda (small family run restaurant).  It is known as Casado, or “married man” in Spanish, and is a traditional Central American/Caribbean dish that has a slight twist based on what locally-sourced ingredients are available.  In Costa Rica Casado features rice, beans, fried plantains, salad, traditional side dish, tortilla and a meat.  This plate of food is so simply delicious that it can be eaten daily, as is traditionally done by Costa Rican nationals.

For visitors to Costa Rica who require a bit more selection to satisfy their palate, below is a manifest on what can be experienced in the diverse culinary world that is Costa Rica.

Fresh Foods

When buying food in Costa Rica, there is hardly a written mention of organic-status or where it has been grown.  It is safe here to assume that your food was grown locally and sustainably, by farmers who grew up in an agricultural tradition, and who are likely training their children to take over the farm.  In the land of pura vida, there is no western-world worry about creating a better future for their family, when the historical and present way of doing things seems to be working out just fine.

Costa Rican’s take great pride in their produce and the abundance that their fertile soils provide.  People here are all too happy to use the dirt already on the ground and fertilize it with home-made compost, using traditional understanding of land fertility that has been developed over centuries of land use.  More often than not, Costa Rican famers will use moon-cycles to grow and harvest their food, maximizing their yields by using this pseudo-but-very-useful-science

The livestock here also seem to be very happy with their natural, typically open-air setting, having a veritable feast of nutrients at their munching disposal.  These traditionally organic circumstances provide for happy and healthy meat and animal produce like milk, butter, sour cream and cheese.  When you purchase any of these products from the local butcheries and family-owned stores (not the chain stores that can be found in some of the bigger cities), you can rest assured that your produce is coming from a local farm.  And with a country that prides itself on its fried chicken, you will soon learn that herbs and spices make not the best chicken dishes – the happiness of the life of the animal has a great impact, too.

Fish are harvested from the abundant supplies on either coast, as well as in-land in lakes, rivers and human-made fish farms.  On any given day, you will see fishermen lining the shores of the most plentiful fishing locations, often away from where swimmers go to bathe.  These catches are then sold at local pescaderias or by the fishermen themselves from an ice-box at the side of their village road.  What this means is that your fish will be so fresh that it will taste like it came straight off the line and moved right to your fry pan.  And for anyone who loves their fish raw, ceviche (raw fish marinated in lemon juice) is incredibly popular here, filled with only natural ingredients, and found on almost any beach or roadside stand.  Costa Rica’s ceviche is definitely worth a try, so fear not the mystery of what it might be like and get right into it!


There is little reliance on outside food sources in Costa Rica, and even when certain foods are out of season, people here would rather do without than import unsustainable or potentially dangerous foods, as is the current case with the national government’s refusal to allow the import of Hass avocados from Mexico, which are said to be potentially infected with the sunblotch virus.  The joys of eating avocado flesh out of season are not worth it if the potential damage to the environment here is irreversible.

When it comes to products that are traditionally subject to unsustainable circumstances, for instance chocolate, coffee, cashew nuts (so many unsustainable C’s), Costa Rica’s farming practices are typically done by the locals whose families have likely grown and harvested these products for centuries.

Cacao, where chocolate comes from, grows in the wild in many places throughout the country, and is one of the main products for export.  Taking a cacao farm tour in Costa Rica will elicit delicious results, showcasing all of the ways to produce and flavor chocolate. 

For those who need their daily cup(s) of joe, you can feel safe in the knowledge that your coffee is not being made with slave labour, and its deliciousness is reflective of this.  Same goes for cashew nuts, which naturally grow throughout many of the nations jungles.  This is the case for most of the nation’s produce – since it is so widely wildly available, it is difficult for any one company to exploit the resource.

Photo by Sergio Otegui Palacios

In Costa Rica, you can tell that the product is fresh and locally-grown when you see it being sold on the side of the road at local fruit/veggie stands.  Touring around the country by road, you will see slight differences in the produce that these local stands host, making it obvious that the produce is local and was grown and harvested by the families living in the area.  And, you would be remiss to forego the taste journey that each of these local stands provide.

Vegan Options

There is no lack of nutrients in the produce of this nation, being grown on some of the most fertile soils on the planet.  In a land where 25% of the forests are protected as national heritage sites, this high number is a reflection of the health of the land, where family-run farms work hard to rotate their livestock and their crops, to make the most of the land and what it has to offer.

As one example, vegans will find this land to be plentiful for their nutritional needs, with many varieties of non-animal fatty-foods like avocados, nuts, pulses, mangoes, bananas, plaintains, root vegetables like yucca and sweet potato, and so much more.  Herbs grow everywhere in the wild and are easy to cultivate, so if you are raw, vegan, organic-inclined, you will find yourself in foodie heaven in this land where taste is truly a sensation!

Come join us in this land of plenty; where nature provides a natural array of delicious treats, sure to suit any palate.  Contact our offices today to learn more about how easy it is to live the pure life in Costa Rica.

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