San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Eco-book Festival paints CENAC green

It was a “green” Wednesday at the National Culture Center (CENAC) in downtown San José, with the Eco-book Festival offering organic food, sustainable products and information booths on environmental organizations and recycling of electronic waste. Bands Sonámbulo and Cacao rocked the energetic crowd made up of mostly students and young adults.

The event was organized by, a social networking sites dedicated to environmental issues. Winning photographs from a photography and blogging contest titled “Living in Harmony With the Environment” – Central America’s first eco-themed blogging competition – were displayed on a wall during the festival.

But the highlight of the evening was the opportunity to sample the various organic food items at the vendor booths, including pesto made by Escazú resident Maggi Villain. Villain began making her own pesto six years ago when she was pregnant.

“I had studied culinary arts and had a large basil plant in my backyard and needed something to do,” she said.

Villain tried selling her fragrant, delicious pesto at the weekly Feria Verde in Barrio Aranjuez, and it was a hit. Since then she has created additional recipes such as cilantro, peanut and spicy sauces. All are raw and vegan.

At the table next to Villain’s, Mercedes Ramírez of San José displayed a variety of organic jams, chutneys and a smooth limoncello she makes with organic lemons and sugar.

Organic pasta, honey, coffee, jams and gluten-free cookies were also available at the festival. One table offered organic makeup, toothpaste, beauty products and natural cleaning products that can be ordered online at Others offered jewelry, clothing and art.

For now, most of these organic and sustainably made products can be bought only through the individual vendors or at specialty markets like the Feria Verde or La Troja fair-trade market in Barrio Luján. But vendors hope that with the growing awareness about the importance of sustainability and organic foods, more of their products may soon make it onto supermarket shelves.

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