(Issue 7) Food Feature: Lorena Latino Market and Mexican Fruits LLC

Forward and Interview by Stephanie Eyocko

Photography by Mariah Miranda

The outside of Mexican Fruits LLC is painted blue with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables on crates. Inside, you are welcomed by roots you’ve probably never heard of: taro, macabo, and Ghana yam, and other starches like Japanese Yam and Yucca. Let’s not even get on the spices variation which is sold in bulk and is environmentally-friendly. For some, this store is a neighborhood staple. For me, this Union Market-based local grocery store is a culinary home. 

Photo by Mariah Miranda

Lorena Latino Market in Baltimore is one and the same. The small and mighty local grocery store has everything from corn husks, to tamarind, and plantain. There’s even a small baked goods corner filled with conchas, pan fito, orejas, and chilindrina.

Photo by Mariah Miranda

For the past 100 years, traditional Supermarkets have been shaping the entirety of our food systems, shaping our environment and health. With a handful of Supermarkets dominating a region and selling below low-cost price, locally-owned grocery stores often get neglected. But, independent groceries are growing in Baltimore and Washington D.C and fulfilling a need for fresh, specialized, and local produce. 

Mexican Food and Fruits and Lorena Latino Market not only support local farmers but provide the community with year-round, convenient access to other healthy food and items carefully selected to fulfill the needs of community residents. 

Below is an interview from both shop owners.This interview has been edited and condensed.

Mexican Fruits LLC

How long has your store been open?

Our store has been open since 2010. Before opening shop, there was only a wholesale market at Union Market.

What was your goal in opening the store?

We are a family business that has been selling fruits since we lived in Mexico, where we are from. Our goal is to grow as a distributor and we dream to have a farm where we can grow the fresh produce we sell. 

Where do you get your food?

We have different suppliers and vendors. Most are local and few from other states. 

What is your favorite vegetable or fruit you sell?

I love to sell fruits and vegetables from Mexico because I like to introduce people to food from my nation. Everything in the store is a favorite of mine because they speak to the diversity of food. 

Why do you love Washington D.C?

I moved to Washington D.C twenty years ago and I have lived here half of my life. I love the diversity of cultures in the District and being from Mexico City, D.C feels a little like home.

Ceci, owner of Lorena Latino Market with her two kids,. Photo by Stephanie Eyocko

Lorena Latino Market 

How long has your store been open?

The store opened on November 23, 2018, so it has been about 2.5 years. Prior to our arrival, the neighborhood was kind of lonely

What was your goal in opening the store?

Our goal was to create jobs for our family and serve the community by selling foods they are familiar with. 

Where do you get your food?

Our vegetables are from companies in Texas and California and many many local distributors. 

What is your favorite vegetable or fruit you sell?

We sell nopales, cactus, which are excellent as a taco topping. 

Why do you love Baltimore, MD?

We are from El Salvador and we love Baltimore because it is a city with many opportunities. Baltimore makes us feel good about ourselves.  

Shopping local is an act of resistance. These local grocery stores add to the diversity of products available to the community and pick the items and products to reflect the unique characteristics of neighborhoods. Venture out and support these local gems.

Mexican Fruits LLC:1263 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002. Mon-Sun: 6am – 6pm. (202) 544-1177 $ Recommended: Homemade Tamales and Mineragua & bulk purchase spices.

Lorena Latino Market: 1750 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21231 Mon-Fri: 9am – 9pm. Sat-Sun: 10am-9pm (443) 759-4778. $ Recommended: Fresh Nopales and peruse the cheese fridge.

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