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We Didn’t Know Food Could Taste This Good

We Didn’t Know Food Could Taste This Good

My kids and I just returned from Costa Rica, where we spent two weeks at Rancho Margot, an off-the-grid sustainable ranch and resort along the Cano Negro River overlooking Lake Arenal, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, Monteverde National Park and Arenal National Park. We did all the touristy things that people do in Costa Rica–ziplining, horseback riding, hiking–and we enjoyed the spectacular scenery. But we all agree that we miss meals the most.

Two solid weeks of just-picked fruits and vegetables, free-range eggs and pork, and homemade cheese and butter is a treat that everyone should experience. (Really, itís a treat we should give ourselves daily.) Combined with the lively company–students, dignitaries, yogis and families from all over the world–mealtimes at Rancho Margot were a feast for our bodies and our souls. Just thinking about it makes me hungry (and homesick).

When the Sostheim family bought the 400-acre property that they named Rancho Margot in 2004, it had been destroyed by decades of cattle ranching. Just one tree remained, and the sandy soil was trampled and useless. Their goal was, and is, to reforest the mountainous property and replenish the native flora and fauna. Theyíve planted hundreds of trees and turned acidic, downtrodden soil into rich, abundant earth that grows food–without chemicals–for volunteers and guests of their resort, education and wellness center. Fruit and vegetable gardens, a pig pen, a chicken coop and a dairy, tucked among hills alive with birds and butterflies, provide up to half the ranchís food needs. (The family hopes to be completely self-sufficient within the next decade.)

Rancho Margot founder Juan Sostheim is building a self-sufficient, closed-loop farm and ranch.

Photo by Barbara Bourne

A dairy, free-range pig pen and chicken coop are tucked into Rancho Margot’s verdant hills.

Photo by Barbara Bourne

Rancho Margotís animals eat protein-rich food grown on the ranch, and their manure is turned into rich compost that feeds the ashy soil. (Human waste, full of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, must be treated separately.) Today a dozen hummingbird species, as well as yiguirro, sangretoro and green quetzal, flit among the heliconia and bamboo orchids that spill onto Rancho Margotís winding paths. The ranch is returning to its natural abundance while employing local farmworkers, cooks and craftsmen. Carpenters make furniture using teak and laurel from nearby La Tigra and giant cane from the ranch; soapmakers turn the kitchen’s spent cooking oil into soap and laundry products; and cheesemakers roll out wheels of farm and goat, cheddar and mozzarella.

The farm’s cheese makers use traditional Costa Rican methods to make farm, goat, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.

Photo by Barbara Bourne

Staying at Rancho Margot opened up worlds of possibility for my suburban kids and me. We experienced the beauty of self-sufficiency and saw how truly sustainable development benefits the local community as well as the global one. We met people who will, no doubt, change the world. But mostly, we long for the butter.

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Environment, Family, Food, Health, Life, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Activities, , , , , , , , , , ,

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Robyn Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence is editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Magazine, an eco-lifestyle magazine that bridges spa wisdom with green living. Through print, online and phone apps, Organic Spa Magazine offers expert advice and inspiration on sustainable health and wellness, beauty and skin care, fashion and travel. 

49 comments

+ add your own
4:51AM PST on Mar 1, 2013

thanks

5:01AM PST on Feb 7, 2013

Just enjoy what we've given

8:54AM PST on Feb 4, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

2:45AM PST on Jan 31, 2013

Thanks for the article!

12:49AM PST on Jan 31, 2013

Thank you :)

10:05PM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

Sounds so amazing. I would love to go there.

2:25AM PDT on Sep 17, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:13PM PDT on Sep 11, 2011

I fell for the fruit juice and 'dirty rice' breakfasts. The juices were fresh, from fruit (even cactus). thanks for posting about a wonderful place to visit and way to eat.

9:03AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

Looks amazing!

5:36AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

fantastic!

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