Belize it or Not! Heathy Travels!
Belize (just south of Cancun, Mexico) is more then a tropical paradise, it’s a self-sustaining mecca for organic produce, fresh fish, delicious seafood and happy animals. While enjoying the warmth of the crystal blue waters and being surrounded by thousands of palm tree covered islands (i.e. cays), eating fresh food and staying active is part of the Belizean lifestyle. Recognized for having the biggest coral reefs in the Western Hemisphere, Belize has a variety of outdoor activities that will help metabolize your daily daiquiri or happy-hour indulgence. Only five hours away from Los Angeles and four hours from NYC, this English speaking country is healthy travelers dream come true.
Belize utilizes both old Mayan methods and new techniques when growing organic produce. At Maya Organic Farm, traditional Mayan farming is combine with more advanced systems of irrigated raised beds fill 33 acres with cacao, root crops and vegetables. You can easily find organic produce such as bananas, Jamaican limes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peanuts and squash being sold on the side of the road for a fraction of the US prices. For the full organic fine dining experience, Turtle Inn, a Coppola Resort, outsources most of their produce from Haney Farm, which has over 200 acres of fruit trees, vegetables, orchids and flowers. Dine in at one of Turtle Inn's three delicious restaurants for fresh food, tropical drinks, great service and picturesque views.
Fresh Fish and Seafood:
A fisherman’s paradise, Belize has a variety of indigenous fish, which happily feed and live within the reef. Fishing in Belize is not only a sport; it’s a way of life…and is immensely integrated into the culture. Bring any catch of the day to a local restaurant or resort and they’ll prepare it perfectly. Grill it up, sauté it in lemon and butter or add it to a traditional Belizean curry.
Belizean seafood is unlike any other seafood I’ve ever consumed! Their local lobster is more like a langostino; medium in size, delicious and tender. I have never been a fan of crab in the shell, considering most crabs we get in The States are a lot work to eat with barley any meat. In Ambergriscaye, Elvi’s Kitchen serves the biggest and best crab claws I have ever seen or tasted. We went back two nights in a row specifically for those claws. Yum yum!!
The most unexpected surprise of my Belizean culinary experience was the local and sustainable farmed shrimp. Shrimp farming has become an expanding industry and growing export for Belize. Fresh, moderately sized and sweet, these shrimp surpass any shrimp that I have eaten in the United States. Because most of the shrimp that enter the U.S. come from China, I usually steer clear of the frozen pink crustaceans, but in Belize I was eating these local treats daily. Hey, maybe I’ll even start importing them into the US myself…what do you think,"The Vibrant Beet: Organic Shrimp Company"?
Belizean animals roam the forest and open landscapes with a smile on their face and not a care in the world. Brightly colored chickens and lazy beautiful coated cows live a happy relaxed life with all the grass and natural feed they could hope for. Because Belize has a very small population, there is no need for factory farming, hormones, pesticide, or antibiotics, therefore most communities and families have their personal animals living on their land. Restaurants and resorts raise their animals on small farms only miles away from their kitchens and thus, from your dinner plate. Turtle Inn, in Placencia Village, has their own chicken coop directly adjacent to the front entrance for all to view. Throughout the Mayan communities of Belize, farm animals stroll amongst the indigenous people without walls or barriers. Never would they guess that they may be the dish of the night. Ignorance is bliss;)!
Oh Belize, you are my perfect tropical paradise….until next time we meet, keep it vibrant and move to your own beat!!