Eating Paleo in Spain: Malaga, Costa del Sol and Andalucia

Note: This post gives advice on “Paleo upgraded” foods in Spain, with Weston A. Price, organic and low toxin (e.g. pesticides) and other refinements and upgrades added in to basic paleo. If you’re just straight paleo you’ll find what you want. If you’ve added in upgrades, you will too. If you don’t know what Paleo or Weston A. Price nutrition is check out my list of nutrition resources on the trusted resources page.

Figuring out where to get Paleo, Weston Price and other quality foods and supplements in Spain was a lot more challenging than I had first thought.

My assumption was that in the European Union it should be straightforward to find everything I eat. Knowing that a lot of agriculture in the E.U. comes from the south of Spain led me to believe it would be ideal to live on the Costa del Sol, and even more so, in Malaga itself, the region’s largest city.

However, the reality has been quite different – in some ways it has been even more challenging than third world countries like Mexico or Thailand for example.

Having said this I have managed to figure everything out and this post summarizes where to get near any quality food items you like to use.

(Note: You’ll find some useful Spanish vocabulary for the items discussed at the end of the post).

Your Store Options in Spain

The store options are listed from highest convenience and value for money, to least. So it takes more effort the further you go down.

You can find virtually everything in Spain with effort. So, depending on how ‘upgraded’ your Paleo diet is, and how much effort, time and money you want to put in, you’ll combine more of the store options and go further down the list.

Having said this, it’s a very efficient process for me. I spend little time shopping, since I “batch buy” or use online delivery for most items.

  1. Organic Farm Delivery Services: There are many delivery services from local organic farms in the Costa del Sol that you can order from online. Some of these are CSA (Common Supported Agriculture) baskets. The one I use is Eco Agricultores de Malaga. There are others in Malaga, but I’ve found their produce is not as fresh (sometimes moldy even).

    Others include Ecohuerto El Rabanito, and one in the Marbella area is Andalucia Ecologica (I have not tried these yet, so cannot comment, please let us know your experience in the comments if you have used them).

  2. Organic Market Stalls: The ‘local markets’ do not sell organically grown produce. Many tourists and expats make the mistake of thinking that just because it looks good and is in a market, it is grown without pesticides etc. Not true.

    So, for example, in Malaga Central Market (Mercado Central de Atarazanas), there two shops amongst the 100 or so there, that sell organic produce. They are next to each other in one corner (side of crossing of Calle Atrazanas and Calle Guillén de Castro). One of them is named “La Caracola“.

    There are specific organic markets set up to take place on set days however that seem to change over time and be relatively temporary. These are always on Saturdays. The second Saturday of the month at the Malagueta (Calle Cervantes) and the forth Saturday of the month at Parque de Huelin. There is a list of these here.

  3. High End Wholesale Meat Importers: The importers who bring foreign meats into the country for the top restaurants and hotels.
  4. Online/ Retail Herbal Shops “Herboristerías”: You can find a number of imported or national organic products including mostly packaged foods and supplements in these.

    Examples in Malaga that do both offline (store) and online retail are Fitovitalia, La Herboristería Online, and Soy Natural. Three others worth looking at, but without online stores are Natural Aloe Alimentacíon Ecologica, Herboristería La Central and Herboristería de Lina SL.
    Natural Aloe Alimentacíon Ecologica stock fresh organic vegetables and fruits in addition to packaged products.

    Fitovitalia is the most convenient since they have the widest range in stock and are amenable to getting items they don’t have ordered in for you.

  5. El Corte Inglés: Spain’s leading department store has some harder to get items sometimes. More often than not these are imports. You nearly always pay a premium for them in this department store however, so often you can get better value for money buying them elsewhere where possible.
  6. Standard Supermarkets: Sometimes you can find some items in SuperSol or Carrefour supermarkets. These tend to have a better selection than other brand supermarkets in Spain, however for convenience I don’t use these as whether they have the items I’m looking for or not is unreliable. Still if you have one nearby, you can try.

Step By Step – Where You Can Find Each Food Item

100% Grass Fed & Pasture Raised Meats

Finding grass fed meat in Spain has been a real task. Your options are limited and higher effort than elsewhere. But you can get it.

In Spain, most of the “healthy meat” is called “Carne Ecológica”, and what it means is that the cows are fed with organic grains, rather than standard grains, and hormones and antibiotics aren’t used.

The only Spanish source I found for real pastured beef was a small farm near Madrid, VacaNegra.es that auctions off parts of a cow from its pastured herd with slaughters taking place once or twice per year. So supply and demand is really against you there. Note that they have non pastured raised herds also, and this is the only meat available from them for the rest of the year.

Not to worry though, I’ve hacked a way around it for you.

There is only one reliable approach to getting grass-fed meat here – that is to skip retail and shops altogether, and go straight to the wholesalers who import meats from grass-fed friendly countries (Ireland, Uruguay, New Zealand) for the top hotels and restaurants.

You do find grass-fed meat in UK, U.S. and Australia also of course, however so far I’ve found that the wholesalers don’t tend to stock these or have them on catalog. You should check with the wholesaler you end up using.

The importer I’ve been using is MercaSur in Malaga with deliveries of:

  • Drumlin Gold Pasture Raised Beef: Drumlin Gold have a variety of cuts available, these arrive fresh, not frozen. The cuts are very large, with around 20 servings, so I cut them into individual serving pieces before putting in freezer.
  • Silverfern Farms New Zealand Lamb Cuts: The Silver Fern Farms racks of ribs and lamb shanks I received were frozen and good to keep in freezer for 9 months (i.e. expiry date).

June 2014's Grass Fed Meat Order

June 2014’s Grass Fed Meat Order via MercaSur

Here’s how it works.

You will need to do a batch delivery to make it worth their while (they don’t typically work with end-consumers) – so I buy once per month for example and fill the freezer up. If you do it this way, batching purchases, it also saves you a lot of ‘shopping’ time, and the meat is still fresher than you would get via standard supermarkets and butchers.

Here’s the step by step:

  1. Get Importers Catalog and Pick What You Want: They have a catalog to browse from, and you will need to pick out the brands you want from Ireland, New Zealand or Uruguay. You should use Ireland where possible, as the the meat will be fresher and at a better price (having been shipped from closer to Spain).
  2. Due Diligence: Check to see if the cuts you want are 100% pasture raised (if they are not the ones I’ve pre-qualified for you as grass fed products above – Drumlin Gold and Silver Fern Farms). Do a little bit of due diligence – talk with the wholesaler, most have an English speaker working there and know the products well or can find out for you. I also contact the brand owner (e.g. Drumlin Gold) to double-check, especially when the wholesaler isn’t as aware of the differences between feeding practices of farms and how it impacts meat quality.
  3. Checking Current Availability: You need to check for current availability, as they will not always have an item in stock, but you can also order items not in stock at times so they get them shipped in (again, this depends on reasonable quantity and fit with their current orders with that country/ supplier to make it interesting for them).
  4. Order and Receive: Submit your order and the meat gets delivered a day or two after order if it’s in stock and you pay in cash on delivery. Potentially up to a few weeks if they order in especially.

Quality Organ Meats

Organ meats and offal are not widely available in supermarkets, however you can find them.

The options are from most convenient / highest quality to least:

  • Grass-Fed Offal: Lamb and cabrito (young goat) liver and hearts from CabriSur (Carnicas Chica S.L.). These are slaughtered early so primarily fed with mother’s milk, and the rest is via grass pasturing. These are some of the best offal, and easiest to eat liver and heart I’ve ever had. You can find them in El Corte Inglés.
  • Using the Wholesale Import Route: As with other grass fed meat, you can contact MercaSur or another high end importer to see what they have available in terms of grass-fed offal from Ireland, Uruguay or New Zealand.
  • Non Grass-Fed Offal: El Corte Inglés has a wide selection of offal in general from a variety of animals including pigs, chickens, beef and lamb.

    Some of the street butchers (Carnicerías) also have non-grass fed offal, but tend to have a much more limited selection.

(Note: I haven’t found any grass fed beef offal – if you have, please let us know in the comments).

Organic Vegetables and Fruits

This is one of the best aspects of living on the Costa del Sol. There is a good range of in season and local organic vegetables and fruit available that changes by season.

I choose to get a delivery twice per week of fresh vegetables and fruit so everything is literally just picked out of the ground before eating. Given how hot it gets in South Spain, it’s even more important than usual in terms of preserving nutrient content to not keep produce around too long before eating.

Personally I use Eco Agricultores de Malaga because their produce is always in great shape, and it’s very convenient to order online. Your order gets delivered the next morning on week days monday to friday, provided you order before 7pm the night before (sometimes I order later and still get it).

Eggs and Dairy

There are some items in this area I’ve been unable to find. If you find “raw dairy”, “pastured eggs” or “New Zealand Anchor Butter” please let us know in the comments.

  • Grass Fed Unsalted Butter: You can find Kerry Gold Unsalted Butter and Vrai Organic Unsalted Butter in some supermarkets. Both of these are from pastured cows, however Kerry Gold is no longer 100% pastured and also uses GMO grains for a small part of the feed. Typically, New Zealand Anchor Butter is the best choice, but I haven’t found it here.

    El Corte Inglés is your best bet for finding these, as it reliably stocks these brands.

    You can also find both of these in some SuperSol Supermarkets, although not very many. I believe the the only ones to stock these are those near communities of expats or tourist activities. For instance, the SuperSol in “El Palo” often has these (SuperSol Supermercados, Av Principal del Candado 2, 29018 Malaga).

    If you live in Marbella, Andalucia Ecologica stocks Allgauland Bio Butter from Germany. (Note: I haven’t been able to confirm if is from pastured cows).

  • Free Range Organic Eggs: There are a variety of brands of organic free range eggs available. These are not pastured, the chickens are fed grains for part of their feed, but they are not GMO grains. Brands include La Hertezuela and Huerta Rio Grande. You can get these from El Corte Inglés and most Herboristería or organic delivery services.

Fish and Shellfish

sardinas-aceite-oliva-bajo-en-sal-calvo

Low Salt Olive Oil Sardines


It shouldn’t really need to be said that there is a wide variety of fish in most standard supermarkets and markets here, so there is plenty to choose from.

The Mercado Central de Atarazanas has rows of stall dedicated to assortments of fish, octopus and squid amongst others.

The one tip here, is that if you’re looking for quick protein snacks with reasonably healthy fats, there are of can of Sardines in olive oil from the brand “Calvo” – which are also low in salt (rather than having unhealthy fats, and extra refined salt added).

Safe Starches

  • Sweet Potatoes: You can find these in the standard markets and in organic online delivery services (e.g. EcoAgircultores.es) from September until April/ May. In the summer they are harder to find, as they’re out of season. However, if you search, you can find them in small local street stores and sometimes if you are lucky in a market stall – these out of season sweet potatoes and typically not organic. Organic are more expensive, and not as necessary due to lower pesticides with sweet potatoes.
  • Long Grain Organic White Rice: If you aren’t up to date with the ‘arsenic’ issue with rice, see here. Long grain organic Basmati white rice is a better option to reduce arsenic levels, and you can find this in the organic store, “La Caracola”, in Mercado Central de Atarazanas, and in any Herboristería.

Sweeteners, Herbs, Spices, Healthy Fats and Other Items

  • Sweeteners (Stevia and Xylitol): Stevia natural leaves are available in some of the organic market stalls. Notably the one in Mercado Central de Atarazanas. (Note: I don’t use Stevia powders due to processing issues).

    Xylitol can be found in many of the Herboristería – however it is primarily from China and extracted from corn. The brand Raymifoods do have Xylitol from Birchwood trees, non-China origin. So this is the one I get – can be found at Fitovitalia.

  • Real Salt: Himalayan Pink Salt is found in most of the Herboristerías, El Corte Inglés and in some Carrefour. The brand I’ve been using is Molí de Pomerí from El Corte Inglés.
  • Healthy Fats: Coconut Oil can be found in most of the Herboristerías, and El Corte Inglés. Although not all of it is extra virgin or cold pressed. The brand I get which is both is Coconoil which is found on Amazon.es.
  • Organic Herbs and Spices: If you’re looking for organic versions of all the usual spices and herbs these can be found at virtually all Herboristerías and El Corte Inglés. One brand you’ll find with a wide range is Soria Natural.
  • Seaweed/ Algae: One of the benefits of living in the South of Spain is Algamar. They have a wide variety of organically certified seaweed (Wakame, Nori, Kombu) and sea vegetable products that come from the Atlantic coast. Again, you can find these in a lot of the local Herboristerías including Fitovitalia.

    For organic Spirulina, powder or tablet form, a good brand is Raymifoods again which can be be found at Fitovitalia and other Herboristerías.

  • Coffee (Low Mycotoxin Beans): Mycotoxins are present in many coffee beans, in particular natural processed beans from Africa. You can reduce your exposure to these toxins by using only wet processed arabica beans (not pre ground) that originate from Latin American countries.

    In Spain I’ve found most coffee specialists don’t stock these, and neither do the supermarkets, or even El Corte Inglés. Fortunately, in Malaga there is a coffee specialist shop that does, Golden Tips next to Plaza de la Constitución. They have a wide selection, and also if you’re interested, a good selection of premium teas and dark chocolates from around the world.

Nutritional Supplements

Typically, no matter the country I’m in at that moment, I use myself and recommend using iHerb for most supplements.

I explained why in this post for Thailand.

However, Spain is different. I do not recommend using iHerb here. 2 out of 4 orders from iHerb have been lost in transit or blocked permanently by customs. As a result, I recommend you not try to ship anything from the U.S. to Spain (or indeed shipping from any other non-EU country to Spain).

To get round this issue I now use a combination of local supplement suppliers and UK suppliers.

Supplements are expensive in the EU in comparison to the US, and they tend to be more expensive in Spain than in the UK. UK is the best place to get supplements from within the EU because of the much better range of brands available (most you can get from US can be found) and the lower cost.

So this is what I do here:

  1. Generic Needs that Aren’t Urgent: If waiting up to a week is okay for you, then get it shipped from the UK. There is one good store that ships to Spain,
    Amazon.co.uk. Amazon is increasingly shipping from the UK to EU countries including Spain (just in last year, this has got much better). So it’s a good first stop. If they ship it to you it’s also the most reliable in assuring it gets delivered properly.
  2. Urgent Generic / Lower Quality Needs: If you want it within a week, and you aren’t so specific about quality, you can find a variety of supplements in the local Herboristería stores – it tends to be more expensive than shipping from UK (see below) but you get it straight away. The brands aren’t the highest quality (thus product quality and purity) for the most part though.

    I use almost exclusively Fitovitalia for this because as mentioned the owners have been very amenable to ordering in specific supplements I’ve asked for. They also stock the Solgar brand, which is good quality, and a local Spanish brand, Raymifoods, that I have found good for many herbal-health type supplements (e.g. Ayurvedic herbs, Spirulina etc.).

    A strength of the Herboristerías in general is that they do tend to stock most ‘herb’ related supplements, like Ayurvedic herbs for example. Their weakness compared to typical supplement stores is that they don’t have the extensive bodybuilding line up you are used to.

    Some of the items you can expect to find in these stores include Creatine, L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Maca, Rhodiola Rosea, Reishi and Grapefruit Seed Extract.

  3. Backup Options for Items You Still Haven’t Found:
    Bulk Powders have a selection of their own in-house products. Personally I don’t agree with some of the ingredients they use, however, for the simple/ pure items I find them both cost effective and reliable. I also have used BigVits.co.uk with some success for more unique items. Generally I’ve found that for BigVits they:

    1. have a very broad range of US supplements including specialized brands like Dr’s Best, Life Extension Foundation, Thorne Research etc.
    2. have reasonable prices (make sure to use frequent buyer option)
    3. and all shipments arrive reliably here in Spain.
  4. Very Specialized or Higher Quality Brand Supplements: Having got fed up with not being able to get many of the supplements I’m used to from the U.S., I recently set up a couple of companies in the UK (PALEOsource – paleo products – and Ketosource – ketogenic products) to import the higher quality products I use myself. I’ve been optimizing this to keep costs down as I also found companies in the UK were often charging very high premium margins compared to the U.S. – so if there’s something you’d like that you really can’t find, reach out to me and I’ll see if it’s viable to start importing it. Notable products I already import include EVCLO (Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil) and KetoCaNa.

Summing Up

You can live a very clean “Upgraded Paleo” diet in Spain, it just takes a little more work than in the U.S.

Once you’re set up though, it can be very convenient, especially using many of the online delivery services.

Otherwise, for efficiency, you can make a trip to El Corte Inglés once per week and perhaps one other supermarket or a Herboristería.

Are you looking for items not covered here? Or have you found some other options for getting paleo, paleo upgraded and Weston Price, certified organic foods or nutritional supplements conveniently? Let me know in the comments!

Spanish Vocabulary for Paleo and Other Quality Food Terms

  • Organic: Use “Ecológico”. You will also hear or see used “Orgánico” and “Bio”, however beware of these, from experience if you
    use “Orgánico” or “Bio” Spanish store owners or personnel can often give you something that isn’t organic. “Ecológico” is the term to stick to.
  • Grass fed meat = Carne de Pasto / Alimentado con Pasto
  • 100% Grass Fed = Alimentado Unicamente con Pasto/ Alimentado Por Hierbas
    Pastured: de pasto (e.g. Pastured Eggs = Huevos de Pasto)
  • Liver = Higado
  • Heart = Corazon
  • Offal = Asaduras
  • Birchwood Xylitol = Xilitol de Abedul
  • Himalayan Pink Salt = Sal Rosa de Himilaya
  • Herbal/ Organic Product Shop = Herboristería
  • Algae = Alga
  • Organic Butter = Mantequilla biologica
  • Sweet Potato = Batata
  • CSA Box = Cesta Ecológica
Posted in Diet & Nutrition, Spain, Travelling
  • Athena Soul-Tender

    Hola damien¡ thanks for all the wonderful resources¡ if i may, i might also add that another great resource for low-cost, exquisite quality organic produce i really like lately is a farm called “las cosas del campo.”

    Too, there is an organic vedic farm (agricultura maharishi vedica) in nerja that delivers (at low-cost) a wide selection of produce, bulk foods, herbs, spices, and so forth. :).

    Lastly, es de raiz (based out of madrid) delivers a wide variety of meats and fish (possibly organ meats too) in addition to produce, organic seeds, and other products. 🙂

  • Sol

    Thanks, Damien, makes living (read: eating 🙂 in Andalucia a lot easier! <3

  • Xabier

    Hi Damien. I’m from Barcelona and trying to handle the grassfed beef issue also. So to understand…You contacted Mercasur for the catalog of meat providers they have and searched for one that sells grassfed beef and then ordered via Mercasur or directly to the provider? thank you!! Wonderful post BTW!!

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      You’ll need to find an importer that serves Barcelona’s restaurants and hotels. Mercasur may be there, may not – ask them. Otherwise google for wholesale meat purchase for restaurants Barcelona or ask the top hotels who they use.

      You will order through the importer (e.g. Mercasur), and they will deliver the meat to you. The meat will be sourced from the brands/ farms you select from their catalogue.

      • Xabier

        Thanks a lot!! I’ll let you know the outcome!!

        • Ali

          May I ask what the prices are like? For a benchmark, where I’m at in the US, it’s easy to get a pound of true grass-fed meat for $8…

  • Ali

    You are my hero! Thank you for all this info! My heart is happy now 🙂

    There are a few items I can’t live without but have had a difficult time finding.

    Do you know where to get Dr Bronner’s Castille soap and SalSuds? I found it very ironic that I had a hard time finding Castile soap at all ;), let alone in bulk–like a gallon. I think there is one place in Gibraltar (a lone person) that imports Dr Bronner’s and seemed willing to special order gallon sizes for an atrocious price. 😉

    Baking soda? I use this constantly, for cleaning sinks, cleaning produce, laundry, etc. I use the Arm and Hammer orange 5 or 25 lb bags in the US, but can not find Arm and Hammer anywhere in the Costa Del Sol. I finally got a (quite small) shaker bottle of sodium bicarbonate at a hardware store. It wasn’t finely ground like powder though; it was larger crystals and I was concerned about it making scratches while cleaning. (And LOL, I bet that wasn’t food grade.). And then I found salt shaker-sized ones at the Mercadona’s. I practically laughed–how many of those would I have to buy? Was told to try Makro, but haven’t been able to yet.

    And lastly, distilled white vinegar. For household cleaning and washing produce. A gallon? I could barely find a pint ;). And it was so expensive!

    And Epsom salts. I did find one health food store in La Cala that sounded like she special ordered a 25 lb bag for a client, and she thought it was the strangest request :).

    I’m wondering if you can bring dried spices through customs. I could stock up at Mountain Rose Herbs on a US trip and those will pack light, and last forever. I haven’t been able to find anywhere near the quality of MRH. (I know you are not allowed to bring essential oils on a plane because of flammability, though some people do.). I bought eucalyptus at that La Cala health food store, but it was very expansive and the quality was terrible… It barely seemed like eucalyptus. Any ideas for MRH-type goods: high quality essential oils, spices, carrier oils, etc.?

    Wow, I’m so happy you wrote this blog post! You put in a ton of information and I will be using much of it!

  • Daniel

    Top post. Just moved nr. Malaga, and starting to miss grass fed bone broths etc..

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