The Best Organic Food Spots in Rio de Janeiro

While eating organically in Rio is not easy, there are still some options to please the health conscious.

By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Finding organic food in Rio is not always easy, especially compared with some other major international cities. With many restaurants and juice bars serving heavy, processed foods, and most supermarkets selling non-organic products, it takes some extra effort to find fresh, chemical-free, non-processed food.

Azteka's organic chicken in traditional mole sauce, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Azteka’s organic chicken in traditional mole sauce, photo by Azteka Culinaria Mexicana.

Gwendoline de Ganay, a native of France who is now living in Rio and is founder of the blog “Sustainable Brasil”, favors organic food because she says that “the regular fruit and veggies you find here are full of pesticides and toxic chemicals. I notice here that regular supermarket food here very often has chemical additives, preservatives and also added sugar or salt in unhealthy quantities.”

She continues: “I therefore recommend organic food because even though it tends to be more expensive, the effects on your health [of non-organic food] on the long run are potentially huge (risk of cancer, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes).”

Carioca Rodrigo Lopes is in agreement, finding that, “[The food] has a shorter lifespan, but it brings greater nutritional benefits to the body. So I eat it.”  Even so, he states that, “in Rio, people have irregular eating habits, and this doesn’t provide the opportunity [to eat] organic food.  Another factor is the price, which for many is not accessible.”

While organic food does not seem to be a priority in most grocery stores and restaurants, there are several great organic eateries in Zona Sul (South Zone). In Ipanema, Azteka Burritos and Tortas is a good choice for organic Mexican food and one of the owners, Agilka Angelova, tells The Rio Times that, “Azteka uses organic chicken, eggs, green peppers, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce and oranges.”

“Considering that all of their conventional counterparts (with maybe an exception to the oranges) are known to be laden with pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, nitrates… us offering them organic gives the dishes they are used in much stronger and complex taste, while promoting also the customer’s health,” she explains.

Also in Ipanema, Delírio Tropical (a chain also found in Rio Sul shopping mall, Gávea, and Barra shopping, amongst other places) is an extremely popular option, especially known for its salads. The menu changes every day and with each location, proof of the restaurant’s reliance on short-lived, organic products.

Markets offer a taste of organic food in Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Markets offer a taste of organic food in Rio, photo by Tathi Sobroza/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Universo Organico is a popular restaurant, juice bar and market in Leblon; fruits and vegetables arrive each morning from organic farms throughout the state of Rio. In addition, none of the food is cooked above 38 degrees Fahrenheit, so as not to kill all of the protein.

According to the website, the restaurant is “…committed to providing a diet rich in enzymes, minerals and vitamins, producing healthy habits that can be introduced in the diet to achieve energy and health. We want to show that it’s possible to be healthier, without losing the joy out of eating.”

In Copacabana, Bio Carioca, a vegetarian restaurant open until late, is situated just two blocks from the beach, and therefore a practical alternative to the unhealthy beach food.

In Botafogo, check out Refeitório Organico, a buffet-style, vegetarian restaurant. Vegan Vegan, also in Botafogo, is a restaurant and shop open only for lunch. For those who are interested in learning how to cook organically, Vegan Vegan offers courses, as well.

There are more options Centro, such as the French-inspired Coccinelle Bistro, where drinks include biodynamic wines from small French producers. Here, all of the bread and deserts are homemade. Chefs at Coccinelle rely on the “slow food” method, which they believe “… preserves the quality and the taste of the ingredients,” according to the website.

Restaurante Natural Beterraba is a buffet-style restaurant in Centro, where food is served by the kilo. Beterraba promises to only use whole grains, vegetables, soy protein and white meat, without the use of additives or preservatives, “in order to preserve the nutrients found in nature,” as the website states.

For those who prefer to cook at home, in addition to the shops mentioned above, there are various shops throughout Rio that sell organic products. Another viable option are the various local markets, which are set up one morning a week, running till early afternoon.

4 Responses to "The Best Organic Food Spots in Rio de Janeiro"

  1. larry  January 30, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    This is information I need and have been looking for but did not know where to find. In particular, thank you for Gwendoline de Ganay, a resource I shall be following and passing on to everyone I think may be interested or should be.

  2. LatAm  February 15, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    No mention of the organic feiras? there were at least two in zona sul in Leblon in Ipanema. They are small but definitely worth checking out because the quality is clearly better. I would also point out that much of the fish on sale at the regular feiras is ocean caught (sustainability is another issue) and is thus organic by definition. In addition, there are many food producer popping up that are not officially organic but strive to provide sustainable and natural products. The requirements to obtain the officially organic certification in Brazil are very stringent in Brazil which often makes it not economically feasible. For chicken, there is a fantastic tasting frango caipira grown by Bianchi Family available at the Hortifrutti markets. In terms of milk, Leitissimo is a great natural brand. The point is that you can achieve high quality and natural with out restricting yourself to organic

  3. john pat  February 19, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Great list and I’ve noticed more organic produce on display and a general increase in awareness of better diet. We’re a little spoiled in Saquarema as we are surrounded by small producers and of course we manage to grow a lot ourselves. Wish we we could all work better with Mother Nature and stop messing with food.

  4. Pingback: The Best Organic food Spots in Rio | Expat in Brazil

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