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Foodie Finds
This Wellness-Focused Resort in Mexico Gives Back to the Community


Food is a common denominator that connects us all in many ways. Our choices of how we grow, cook, and eat impact not only our own health but also the health of the Earth and the people who live on it.

I pondered this idea during a recent trip to Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, as I drove past the luxurious beachfront resorts in Puerto Vallarta to the fishing village of Chacala, nicknamed the “Mexican Everglades” by foreigners because of its dramatic rural contrasts. Here, amid a backdrop of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains, beach coves, deciduous forests, and unfettered nature, the wellness-driven resort of Mar de Jade served as my sanctuary for the next several days.
Breakfast Rancheros. Photo by Mar de JadeBreakfast Rancheros. Photo by Mar de Jade

Upon my arrival, owner Angelica del Valle, a young woman in her late 30s, greeted me in the open-air pavilion overlooking Chacala Bay. We chatted over the resort’s nutritious buffet lunch of ceviche, grilled fish, fruits, salads, and fresh coconut water. She encouraged me to try the myriad jars of salsa, mango marmalade, and peanut butter accompaniments, and I happily obliged.

“All the ingredients are sourced from our garden, and the ladies from the village cook them from scratch every day,” explained del Valle, who is a second-generation family owner of the resort. Aside from nourishing the mind and body of international visitors, her focus was to sustain the health of the land and the people around her as well.

Together, we visited the 17-acre farm El Rancho to witness the interconnectedness of tourism, food, and community. The farm now supplied ingredients to the retreat and all its connected projects, but it was once a toxic area because of heavy use of pesticides, harsh fertilizers, and monoculture crops, or one species planted per field, leading to soil imbalance and decreased fertility. Organic farming was unheard of by Mexican farmers in the area until less than a decade ago.
Ceviche. Photo by Mar de JadeCeviche. Photo by Mar de Jade

Now, young men and women come to El Rancho to learn how to germinate native seeds for evergreen beds, incubate free-range chickens, and rotate crops. Some are motivated to incorporate new practices in their own farms and gardens. Through the nonprofit trade school and apprenticeship programs, they learn about canning, pickling, and drying as well as producing sauces, nut butter, and dehydrated fruits for resort guests to try and then take home.

This farm not only provides sustenance to Mexicans and visitors but also offers a promising source of income by increasing the soil’s yield and exposing the villagers to a new, healthier lifestyle.

While most travelers like myself come to Mar de Jade for a personal wellness getaway, we can often leave a positive impact on the land and the people long after our visit, simply by making meaningful choices.