Is Mexican Street Food Dangerous?

Over the last 7 years of living Mexico I often see comments on social media from Americans or Europeans saying that Mexican street food is dangerous, unsanitary, and unhealthy but the reality is this couldn’t be farther from the truth. As 1st world countries stuff fast food in their mouths I find it odd how they could attack real homemade street food especially considering most fast food has proven to be fake, nasty, and terrible for your health. On the contrary Mexican street food is always fresh, unique, and delicious.

During my time here I have eaten from thousands of street vendors, thousands of random foods vendors selling out of a triciclo, or just neighbors offering me a free meal. In my entire time here I have never gotten sick, I’ve never had food poisoning, and I’ve certainly enjoyed it every single time. To be honest I don’t even know where all this negativity comes from concerning Mexican street food but there seems to be a great deal of propaganda and fear mongering to keep Americans out of Mexico. Eating from the likes of Taco Bell and McDonalds while criticizing others just seems comical.

Mexican Street Food

With all the class action lawsuits over the years against large corporation chains and fast food restaurants it’s a bit mind blowing someone could talk down on Mexican street food while eating a Subway sandwich with rubber in the bread. Even going back to my time in the USA I had tons of health issues, stomach problems, and lack of energy from the terrible sources of food in the USA. The meat is injected, vaccinated, and fed terrible diets, refrigerators and preservatives to move it across the country, chemicals coating every vegetable or fruit… yet here in Mexico fresh food is hated on by Americans and Europeans.

The funny part is if you actually do want some real fresh food in the USA you’re going to pay a hefty price tag to get it. Sushi orders going for $50 USD just for a one bite meal when in Mexico I can order a 3 person plate of fresh ceviche for less than $10 USD. I can buy just about any fresh food I want with no chemicals, preservatives, or vaccines at a fraction of the price yet Americans still talk nonsense about Mexican street food. Eating just one cheeseburger at McDonalds would leave me with a painful stomach ache for the rest of the day yet here I feel energized and happy eating some fresh Mexican street sushi. (Ceviche)

All in all you’ll find some of the best food you’ve ever had in your life on just about any street corner in Mexico. Heck most of the time they sell it from a bicycle right at your front door having tamales, homemade coconut water with corn, or cacao (real chocolate) with corn, iced fruit treats, or even some homemade bread with ham and real sugar on the spot. With all the regulations and government permits in the USA you still have unsanitary restaurants, food poisonings, and fake foods being sold as healthy.

I’m not saying food poisoning can’t happen here, but it’s far more unlikely than places like the USA where they have to cut corners and lie to maintain their business in the pile of rubbish known as government regulations and bureaucracy. There is one little tip I can offer though if you ever do feel sick or perhaps your food wasn’t cooked to perfection and that is a glass of water and lime. Lime juice will kill most bacteria and worms you’d find in undercooked foods and just a couple glasses could help save you from a few days of the squirts. A pretty common custom here in Mexico is eating limes with salt while you drink beers or eat dinner and this is the best way to keep any sort of bad actors from getting into your body.

Tools for an Adventure Traveler

The definition of a traveler doesn’t quite grasp the concept of the type of traveling I like to do. I have never slept in a hotel and in a lot of cases I slept outside or close to it. I have lived in many places for as little as a month to as long as a year. I have raised animals, worked in internet cafes, and other random things that require a unique mindset on the fly. This also requires a unique tool set. I decided to make a list of the tools that have made it from the beginning and others I have picked up along the way after realizing how useful they would have been.

Food and Food Preparations
This is a rather generic category. There are many many many ways of starting fire, preparing food, and pots to cook in. Although heavy, one of the coolest stoves I have used is the BioLite. I highly recommend some sort camp cook kit and a few different ways to cook food and create fire. When it comes to food and fire you always want at least 2 ways of doing so. It could be raining, it could be snowing, it could be windy, ect. Have a plan in place for as many situations you can come up with.

Food Gathering
Often times I find myself in situations where it would be quite easy to find my own food. Whether that be through fishing, trapping, or picking fruits or berries. I carry two types of fishing setups as well as some tackle box type things as well. The fishing pole is telescopic and extremely lightweight. It’s hardly noticeable and could be used as a potential weapon if need be. I have not created it yet but plan on making my own slingshot as well. This provides a lot of options for obtaining food with little to no investment and perhaps even lunch for a week. For me this is what the adventures all about.

Sleep and Comfort
Many people use lightweight tents, modern hammocks, or some new crazy tent hammock design. (Which are actually really cool). I would never carry all that and I could never find comfort in those modern hammocks. Once I arrived in Mexico for the first time and experienced my first old school hand made hammock I will never look back. It has earned a life time place in my pack and will be used for the rest of my life. I even sewed up a custom mosquito net to fit over my hammock. In Latin America most houses come with hammock rings built in so it makes for easy accommodation with new friends or random people you meet along the way. Another great thing is it can be used between trees just the same as a regular hammock. The best thing is it’s extremely comfortable and I never have back pain. If you live near Mexico or ever vacation there don’t hesitate to pick up one of these hammocks. The nice big ones run about 600-900 pesos. Other than the mosquito net and hammock I don’t need much else to get a great comfortable nights rest anywhere. A small emergency poncho is also a good thing to have somewhere in your pack just in case.

Clothing and Shoes
I have no set style of clothing. I usually just pick things up along the way and wear them out. Then go get some new stuff. I typically have one pair of cold weather clothes and about a weeks worth of warm clothes. I don’t wear underwear anymore and I rarely wear socks except for as slippers on cold mornings. I also no longer travel in cold climates so this is more of a warm weather list. The only thing I really have fell in love with is the Feivue shoes. (If you are ever in Latin America bring me a pair, it’s really hard to ship shoes in.) The roads are crazy in Latin America and having a grounded shoe makes walking so much easier. I also have a belt with a hidden pocket on the inside and that works great as another storage space or a place to hide things. Other than that it’s all basic.

Hygiene and Health
I carry a few items for hygiene and health that you may not have ever heard about. The basics as soap and toothbrushes are obvious but other things like Petro Carbo First Aid Salve and the JR Watkins Foot Repair Salve. They also make a menthol type cough salve that works great. They work amazing and their title says it all. One is a fix all natural first aid salve and the other is for repairing your feet after a long or wet day on the road. I also carry a baking soda tooth powder instead of toothpaste. It lasts much longer, has no strange chemicals, and is much more light weight.

Tools and Maintenance
Inside of my cook kit I keep many random tools that are small and pretty random for my use. I carry many knives from self defense to cooking and fishing type blades. Even a small machete inside a leather pouch. I also carry a foldable saw for cutting wood and branches. I recently acquired a manual hand drill because drilling holes is extremely difficult without any sort of tool. It’s a bit heavy but worth the weight. One tool that has never left my side is the Leatherman Wave. I’m not sure if it’s the best multi tool but I love it. Any sort of multi tool is a must have. I have used it countless times for the screw driver to the pliers and knife. It is extremely useful and lightweight for the tools you get. I also carry a small knife sharpener for quick sharpening on the fly. With those basic tools I can pretty much build anything from cages to tables or even a house. One thing every man should know how to do is sew. I have a sewing kit that has been used more times than I can even count. From mosquito nets to fixing clothing it is a skill measured in gold. I even created my own adventure traveler waist band from an old elastic waist band holster. It now holds my self defense blade, a every day use blade, a fire starter, and a flash light. I can wear it with any type of clothing and it was created to be used with gym shorts style clothing.

Back Pack
I have used a few different style of bags and by far my favorite is the Osprey (I don’t remember the name, the green one). I like a small sized bags because it keeps me from collecting random crap I don’t need. It also makes for a much more enjoyable travel as I can go do anything anytime even with my pack. It’s easy to move and it’s a great workout. This is another reason to keep your pack weight down and a way to do that is with a smaller bag. I see many travelers along the way with huge bags and I always wonder what they keep in there. Traveling with a dog and myself his gear took up a lot of my pack and even then the small bag was fine. Perhaps I have become more minimalist than I realize. I use the green Osprey and love it.

Your Brain
This is by far my most useful tool when traveling. Learning new hobbies and skills is how you refine this tool so that you don’t have to carry as many items. Using one item for many things is a great feeling and removing dead weight from your bag is quite liberating. It means you have obtained enough skill or ability to do something without that tool. Learning new recipes and cook styles that can be used create a better living standard as well. The mindset is by far the most critical in all of this. Being able to adapt (not evolve) to a situation allows you to not only have more fun and enjoy your travels but it also is much cheaper! Learning how to do many of these things can be free and learning how to do it for free means you don’t need to spend money on that item. If you can build a bed in 30 minutes in many environments perhaps you wouldn’t need any sleep gear. If you can build your own tools from nature than perhaps you don’t need as many knives and saws as I do. These are just a couple examples of how your knowledge is far more important than the tools you carry.