By Shalina Chatlani, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For a little over a year now, Junta Local, a community of local Brazilian producers has been holding artisanal food fairs throughout Rio de Janeiro, bringing quality, homemade products to the community. The idea for developed when three friends, Thiago Nasser, Bruno Negrão, and Henrique Moraes, began thinking about a project involving food that would be able to provide a platform for local producers.
At the same time, they wanted to create a movement that would send a political message about the importance of policies, which incentivize small producers, organic foods, and good health. The result of their discussions was an idea for a collective of producers that would pay whatever they wanted in order to be involved in the market, under the condition that they would sell their affordable homemade goods directly to the consumers.
“At the base of Junta are different projects. There is an online platform to bring together local producers, write about them, and tell their stories,” said Nasser, one of the aforementioned organizers. “There is an initiative to make a shorter food chain, so we know who is making our food and the producers get paid more, while the food is still affordable.”
Nasser affirmed that Junta Local, which happens every two weeks, is the first of its kind of food market to exist in Brazil. “You have a very strong organic movement in Brazil, but it doesn’t make any links with good food culture; there’s usually just bland food. Then there are fancy markets, but they are often overly priced, said Nasser. “This project combines grassroots, affordable local foods, gastronomy, and democracy, making it unique in Brazil.”
Nina Bessa and Thiago Sodre, run Cook Sauce, which produces freshly made sauces and curries that can be used for a variety of dishes. Bessa explained that she joined Junta Local, because she wanted to be involved in a fair that would sell products that were similar to those sold in the UK.
“I had lived in the UK for a while, and when [my husband and I] moved to Rio we realized that there weren’t a lot of natural, semi-ready products,” said Bessa. “I went to one of the Junta Locals in Glória, and fell in love with it, realizing that it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t know that this existed here in Rio!”
In addition to Bessa and Sodre, the fair has a number of participants that sell everything from fresh vegetables and falafel wraps to homemade smoked meats and cold brew coffee. A full list of the producers can be found on Junta Local’s facebook page for each event or on their website, where the producers share their personal stories and the types of products they sell.
While the producers choose what price they sell their products at, Junta does recommend a price range, which is usually around R$15-R$25 for a full, freshly prepared meal or for a pre-made good. The last fair to have occurred took place last Sunday (Dec. 6) in Praça Mauá, with the next happening this weekend, December 20th, at Rua do Rosário / Rua dos Mercadores in Centro from 10AM to 6PM.