Shopping in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean
A quick 90-minute flight out of Lisbon is all the time it takes to get to Europe’s westernmost island destination. The Azores Islands, an autonomous archipelago of nine islands that belong to Portugal, are home to just over 240,000 residents. These nine islands have been relatively unspoiled throughout their 500 years of being. Although these impressive islands formed millions of years ago during a volcanic eruption on the ocean floor, these nine islands have only been populated with humans since the 15th century. One would not think that you would go to the middle of the Atlantic ocean to go shopping and by no means are these islands of vanity or oppulance but more of necessity and quality but here you can find some fantastic things built to last. One of my favorite products from the region is its linens. The linens from the Azores and Madeira are famous around the world for their unique embroideries and high-quality stitch work. These hand woven linens have always been a favorite in the homes of families who enjoy white table cloth meals. The women in the Azores have been producing these high-quality table cloths, napkins, and various other embroideries for generations. There are numerous factories scattered throughout all nine islands that showcase the local women’s various linens. If you want to have a piece of the Azores in your home, you should consider purchasing while visiting. The factory or local shops’ prices are much cheaper than buying them from importers in London or Paris, where the price is sometimes four times more expensive. It goes without saying that if you are visiting the Azores that you need to try the food. The outstanding quality of meats, dairy, seafood, fruits, and vegetables are only some of the fantastic products produced in the Azores. The Azores Islands have never been islands that have been reliant on mainland Europe or North America for their survival. The import and export market in the Azores represents the outstanding agricultural products that the region produces. The dairy and beef come from cattle that are free-grazing cattle, which are allowed to roam freely in green pastures and are not subjected to harsh treatment. The poultry is outstanding due to the fact that the chickens here are all free-range. That is not to say that some people don’t own chickens in coops in their backyards, but overall the chickens here are all free-range, and the eggs come from cage from hens. The abundance of fruits and vegetables that can and do grow here could make up an encyclopedia. Farming is the primary industry here in the Azores, and much of the products produced here are exported to mainland Portugal and the EU. The myriad of orchards and farms here, all under strict EU guidelines, are the lifeline of the Azores economy. Exotic fruits such as Passion-fruits, Guavas, and Pineapples are only some of the unique fruits grown here in the Azores. The various fruits are used to produce fresh cold-pressed juices, yogurts, sorbets, jams, and liquors. In recent years the Azores government has put a strong emphasis on producing and buying local. The made in the Azores logo is a government-sponsored initiative to showcase Azorean made products with less tax being charged in the Azores for products produced locally.