By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
A group of more than 40 foreign diplomats accredited in Mexico and their spouses toured the country’s renowned Central de Abastos (Ceda), the world’s largest food and flower market, on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
The visit, which was coordinated by Ambassador Amanda Mireya Terán Munguía of Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) and hosted by Ceda General Administrator Sergio Palacios Trejo and his staff, included a tour not only of the massive 327-hectare market itself, but also of a series of newly painted murals that line the exterior walls of the hexagon-shaped structure that are part of a program to inspire local pride and cultural identity.
The mural program began in late 2017 as part of an effort to help curb crime and form a sense of community among Central de Abastos workers.
Currently, there are 27 murals, but when the program is completed at the end of this year, there are expected to be 48.
Each mural measures 6 meters in height and extends 20 meters wide, making them the largest public art exhibition in Mexico.
The Central de Abastos, which was constructed by the Mexican City government and Mexican Secretariat of Economic Development in 1981 after the then-largest hub for agricultural and other food producers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers, La Merced, burned down in a fire.
It is operated by a government trust with private-sector participation.
Located in Mexico City’s far eastern borough of Iztapalapa, the Ceda handles no less than 50,000 tons of merchandise daily, representing 80 percent of all foodstuffs consumed in the Mexico City metropolitan area and 35 percent of all food consumed nationwide.
Open 24/7, 365 days a year, the Central de Abasto generates jobs for 90,000 Mexicans and is visited by half a million people every day.
It is most active during the night, when thousands of farmers and ranchers from across the country truck in their wares for sale, and its peak hours are between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.
“After the Mexican stock exchange, the Central de Abastos is the second-largest single source of revenue in the country,” Palacios Trejo explained.
And while the majority of the business conducted at the Central de Abastos is between wholesale suppliers and buyers, small retail sales account for much of the market’s daily traffic, since consumer prices for fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats at the Ceda are usually about 30 percent cheaper than in grocery stores and local tianguis markets.
Before their tour of the Ceda facilities, the diplomats were offered a light brunch prepared by chef José Bossuet Martínez González, and on leaving, each guest was presented with a potted flower and gift bag by Palacios Trejo’s staff.
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