Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cha Cha Cha Chia!

So before I left Mexico to come back home I bought a few giftsfor my friends and family, including the magical and amazing Chia seed! Figuring that since many are not familiar Mexican superfood, I thought I'd fill you in a little. After reading this, I'm sure you'll all want to go out and buy some chia! Here's part of an article I found online about it-

"Chia, or salvia hispanica L, literally means "strength" in Mayan and can be traced back over 3,000 years to Central America where the Mexica utilized it as one of their primary plant sources of food, notably their third most important crop (I've read first most important in other articles) next to corn and beans. Chia was considered more valuable than gold and was often used to pay taxes and tribute to the Mexica nobility.

When the Mexica civilization fell during the Spanish conquest, the Spanish banned chia and many other crops due to their close association with the religious systems of these ancient cultures and replaced the native crops with foreign ones such as wheat and carrots. Remnants of both the Aztec and Mayan civilizations remained in portions of Mexico where small communities continued using the seeds for making flour, oil, and drinks from the gel that forms when the seeds are mixed with liquid.

Though essentially obfuscated throughout many generations, chia would eventually reemerge as a popular super-food identified as being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.

One of the primary benefits of chia seeds is their high concentration of essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are up to four times the concentration of other grains. EFAs are important for the respiration of vital organs, yet the human body is unable to manufacture them itself; they must be obtained through diet.
Chia is also touted as having the highest omega-3 content of any plant-based source, containing 64% alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Flax, another popular source of ALA, contains 55%. Chia is high in complete protein, containing about 23% per seed. All essential amino acids are present and appropriately balanced within the protein, making it complete and nutritious in and of itself. Packed with essential vitamins and trace minerals, chia is a phenomenal whole food for any diet. They also behave wonderfully when ground and used in gluten-free recipes.

High in fiber, chia is known for its easy digestibility. Its layer is a strong source of mucillois soluble fiber which aids in maintaining healthy digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Absorbing more than seven times its weight when placed in water, chia seeds form a gel that, when eaten, produces a physical barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes in the stomach. This process effectively slows the rate at which carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar, rendering chia a great addition to a diabetic diet. Similarly, chia consumption contributes to maintaining balanced hydration and electrolyte levels within the body, steadying water intake, assimilation and absorption."

Article taken from

Friday, December 25, 2009

Coming Back Home

I arrived back home to visit my family for three weeks and while its been very relaxing in many ways, it has also been a bit of a culture shock in the sense that I've come home in the middle of the craziest consumer frenzy of the year and its a bit overwhelming.

The grocery parking lot was packed, my dad and I spent five minutes driving around looking for a spot to park, almost getting hit a few times by crazy drivers not paying attention and driving much too fast. Some shelves were empty from the crazy non-stop holiday shopping while other sections of the store were overflowing with an abundant supply to feed the ham, turkey and stuffing crazed moms across town. Then there's ALWAYS the dreaded running into people you really don't want to see or that awkward greeting and two minute conversation with that person who's name you should know, but have no clue who they are........

I flip the TV on and I keep seeing commercials where AT&T is fighting with other providers for the most cell phone coverage nation-wide and the cooler, more hip phone that has the most gadgets we don't need. I saw an Android commercial literally saying "You'll fit right in" and "Everyone will love you" if you buy the new Android. I don't even know if I'll be able to buy a regular flip phone without a camera, built-in MP3 player and all those other things I don't need, when I get home!

All the stores are packed! People buying things like crazy, no patience or compassion, "get out of my way, or I'll run you over with my cart!" Ah hahah, I can't believe it, it's like people are possessed!

Luckily enough I'm glad I haven't had to participate too much in the holiday consumerism since my family only celebrates Christmas by having a large Mexican-American dinner with all the fixings' including turkey, ham, mole, pico de gallo, salsas, Mexican punche and spaghetti (my favorite) and pie.

It's good to be back home for a few weeks to rejuvenate myself, load up on all the food I've been missing back in Mexico and see my family before I start the next 1/2 of my journey.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I know I haven´t written much, I´ve been on my trip. Check it out on a map of Mexico....So far we´ve driven from Texcoco (near Mexico City) to Matezlan on the west coast, then took a ferry to La Paz (Baja Cal.), then drove down to Los Cabos. Since then we have been driving up all of Baja California, making stops in various places which I´ll describe in detail later when I have more time, and now we are in Tijuana for 4 days. I have 7 more day of this trip before I go back to Chapingo and get ready to back and visit the states for 3 weeks.

So far I have learned soooo much during the trip...The thing that stands out the most so far is how marked the development of the country is by two realities, the reality of those who have and have in abundance and those who have nothing. Mexico is a country of such contridictions....You see huge 5 star hotels owned by Mexican drug dealers next to house made out of sheet of metal and wood.

I have so much to tell you about this trip! Hopefully when I go back to Texcoco, I´ll have some time to sit down and describe my trip from the southern tip of Baja California all the way up to Tecate on the border and back down to Mexico.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bon Voyage!

So I finished all my work! I must say, I'm pretty proud of my final essays....I'm almost all packed and ready to go. I'll be spending the night at a friend's house tonight and tomorrow morning around 4:30 the bus will come and pick us up and 12 of us will be of on our 18 day adventure to the northern part of Mexico. I'm not exactly sure of all the places we are going to be visiting, but I know a few: both North and South Baja California, Tijuana for a 4 day conference on immigration, the largest salt mine in the world, a commercial vineyard and an artisan vineyard, a brewery, a few large agriculture operations and a national park. I can't wait, I worked so hard and now it's going to be time to relax! If I have access to internet I'll try to fill you in here and there on what we are doing. Talk to you soon!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Energy Drain

Oh my goodness, this is crazy.......I have been working sooooo extremely hard the past 3 weeks and I've just calculated that in these past few weeks I've cranked out +100 pages of essays (~16 short to loongg papers) and 6 power point presentations, all in Spanish of course! mind is filling up with too much academia; I need a change of pace. I need a few nights of great sleep, meditation, the outdoors, a vanilla cigar, a large glass of wine........ Soon this masochism (because I do enjoy it at the same time) will be over and I'll be off on an amazing road trip. I have to get everything done by tomorrow afternoon before I leave on an 18 day trip to the northern part of Mexico where I'll be happy to say I will not do one ounce of homework or be sitting in front of the computer like I have been doing for what seems like a short eternity;) Who knows how many hours I've just spent in front of the computer!

Well the great thing about this all is that I've completed my first graduate semester here en Chapingo and I've learned so much, I'm really looking forward to next semester. Ok, back to work!

Painting: Antonio Ruíz, El sueño de la Malinche (“The Dream of Malinche”), 1939.

Right now I feel like la Malinche in this painting, with the weight of not Nueva Espana on top of me, but of books and books and books and books!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I love this painting, because it's a perfect depiction of a dream I had almost a month ago. What a great example of what can happen if your let your thoughts influence you in an unhealthy way.

I came to the conclusion that this is what can happen to a person when they are in a completely new world where the issues are obviously unique to their own. I was having a difficult time processing everything because I wanted to understand everything now, and like with anything else, what I am experiencing here, the news, my education, new relationships etc., all have past histories that I am just beginning to familiarize myself with.

I began paint this dream of everything that was overwhelming me and taking over my mind, but then realized that I didn't really feel like painting something so ugly....

corrupt government,
I have no voice
dried up rivers,
a society of mistrust,
evil spirits,
ojeras under my eyes,
14 year old mothers,
patron saints everywhere!
dogs barking,
Mexico's mountains made out of comida chatarra,
polluted water,

After this horrible dream I realized that I can do nothing about what I was experiencing except to not let it get to me and to make sure to also take the time to observe all the wonderful things that happen every day, to be patient with myself because I'm not going to learn and understand everything right now and to make my time here enjoyable and as stress-free as possible!

I'm glad that's all over and since then, I've made a much more peaceful creation out of a shoebox, feathers and a little statue. I'd have have say much better than a painting of my horrible nightmare!

The Government's Secret (or maybe not so secret) Plan

Above Picture: Centeotl, Mexica/ Aztec Corn Goddess.

So I wasn't so sure before, or lets say, I didn’t know enough to know….but now I'm totally aware that Mexico's government is privatize the whole country and handing it over to big corporations. They've done away with various public institutions including the labor union and the company Luz y Fuerza, one of Mexico's largest unions (~4,000 employees) and public electricity provider and its national germplasm repository/seed bank among others. For years now, people here in Chapingo have been in fear that the school is next.... Mexico’s government seems to be following the 'America way of business', the privatization of everything.

And Monsanto is just loving it all! As of recently, Mexico, birthplace/cradle of maize, is now allowing its first planting of GMO corn crops in the northern part of the country....See ya 50+ criollo varieties that have been saved, improved and planted for over 300 generations of Mexican farm families. Corn, only the most sacred and important crop in the country.

A little side note: Mexico once provided enough corn to feed its entire population was even exporting corn to other parts of the world but now it's importing +60% of its corn....from where? Take a wild guess.....

No national seed bank to go back to when all the GMO corn has contaminated every last corn stalk in the country by open pollination (something we can't control).....Don't worry! Monsanto has that covered! They just recently signed an agreement with Mexico's National Confederation of Corn Producers (CNPAMM), which is affiliated with the umbrella agriculture association National Campensino Confederation (CNC), agreeing to "work together" to protect Mexico's indigenous maize varieties! Ahhh!!! Are you kidding?! This plan also includes the planning of GM corn seeds that will not sold commercially...BUT if all works out (and I'm sure it will the way things are going), the seeds could be grown commercially shortly. How beautifully this all fits together.

You know the ironic thing.....Most GM corn is modified to be resistant to European corn bores, an insect that doesn’t even exist in Mexico.

Lets not forget the two larges media companies in the country, Televisa (the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world) and TV Azteca (once a public media source, privatized in 1993), and the influence Mexico's politicians have over these companies and what is transmitted to the Mexican people. Then there's the war on drugs that the national army heads...

What does this all mean........ complete militarization and privatization, the loss of all human rights.

A link about what happened Luz y Fuerza, sorry English speakers, this cartoon is in Spanish!

Friday, November 20, 2009


I painted this last summer, some of you have seen it, some of you haven't. This is a dream I had and painted over the winter at the farm and is a reflection of my identity.

It is an identity without political boundaries and lives somewhere between Mexico and the U.S.

The mid-ground, my childhood upbringing, a blend of Mexican and Midwest Wisconsin culture and influence,

The background, the influences in my life as a young woman:

Minneapolis, where I went to school and lived 5 years (biking everywhere of course!),

The pyramid of the moon in Teotihuacan, Mexico, where I live today and where my family and cultural roots are,

and el volcan Cotacachi in Ecuador, where I live for a year and found my passion of serving the community though all that is agriculture and community organizing.

I'll leave the rest to your imagination, I don't want to explain everything now do I? That's the great thing about art, the viewers are the ones whom interpret what it means for them.

Situation Worsening for US Farmers

A lot of Mexicans think of big John Deere tractors, large expansions of land and farm subsidies from the government when they think of U.S. farmers. They think that U.S. farmers have it made.....but its far from the reality. If it wasn't for those subsides that help them just barley cover costs or other off-farm family incomes, there would be no family farmer left, and it looks like the situation is getting worse.

Every year, the average farm income declines, but food prices keep going up....Where is all the money going? Farmers can't make it anymore, and things are only going to get worse, peak oil is just around the corner and what do most U.S. farmers depend on in their farming? Petroleum... for their inputs, for their tractors, for transportation etc., modern U.S. agriculture depends of petroleum. In the end, when you consider alllllll the costs and inputs for this type of agriculture, its highly inefficient. Whether we like it or not, we are going to have to change and if not, we will be the ones paying for it at the grocery store along with the thousand of family farm that won't be able to maintain a living for farming anymore.

Check it out-

2009 Farm Income Forecast
Farm Sector Income Is Forecast to Decline in 2009

Net farm income is forecast to be $54.0 billion in 2009, down $33.1 billion (38 percent) from the preliminary estimate of $87.1 billion for 2008. The 2009 forecast is $9.6 billion below the average of $63.6 billion in net farm income earned in the previous 10 years.

In 2009, crop prices have continued to decline and prices for livestock animals and products have experienced sharp declines. With economic conditions deteriorating worldwide, demand for exports has tailed off, with few options available to expand marketing elsewhere. Sharply declining demand in 2009 has forced farmers to accept prices that are lower than were expected earlier in the year when production plans were made.

On the input side, prices are also projected to be lower than in 2008, particularly for most manufactured inputs, feed, and services such as repairs or transportation. Overall, the reduction in gross income will far exceed the reduction in production costs, leaving all net measures of income and output below the record or near record levels established in 2008.

Average Farm Household Income Forecast Down in 2009

In 2009, average family farm household income is forecast to be $75,895, down 5.2 percent from 2008, and 8.0 percent below the five-year average for 2004-08. In 2009, the average family farm is forecast to receive 7.6 percent of its household income from farm sources, with the rest from earned and unearned off-farm income (unbelievable).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Quote from Anthropologist Floriberto Diaz Gomez

Im doing my homework right now and I found an amazing quote! The author is addressing the indigenous communities of Mexico, but it applies to the communities of the whole world. I think its beautiful-

"Para los pueblos indios, la matriz de todos los demas derechos es la tierra (...). La concepcion indigena de la tierra es integral y humanisita. La tierra no es solamente el suelo. La tierra lo forman los animales y las plantas, los rios, las piedras, el aire y las aves; los seres humanos. La tierra tiene vida (...), los indios le debemos la vida a nuestra Madre, de ella somos. Nos da la existencia durante el rato que pasamos por este mundo y nos abre maternalmente sus entranas para recogernos, haciendonos parte integrante de ella nuevamente, con lo cual se nutre la existencia de las generaciones venideras. (...) La tierra, como nuestra Madre, no es susceptible de convertirse en propiedad privada, pues de lo contrario no podriamos asegurar el futuro colectivo de nuestros pueblos (Declaraicon de Tlahuitoltepec, Octubre de 1993. No9)

Which means.....

"For our native communities, the womb of all other rights is the earth (...). The indigenous concept of the earth is comprehensive and humanist. The earth is not just soil. The earth is made up of the animals and the plants, the rivers, stones, the air and birds; human beings. The earth is living (...), we the indigenous communities owe our lives to the Mother earth, we come from her. She gives us our existence for the short while that we are on this earth and then maternally she opens her entrails to receive us, newly making us an integral part of her, from which future generations nurture themselves. (...). The earth, as your Mother, is not susceptible in being converted into private property, on the contrary, we would not be able to ensure the collective future of our communities (Declaration of Tlahuitoltepec, October of 1993. No9)

Some of my postings may seem repetitive, about the same thing, but I can't stress enough the importance of reestablishing a strong relationship with the earth as the only way of securing a future for everything that exists on this earth. All my classes also confirm this so its obvious that its going to be a pretty important topic that I address frequently. Hopefully you don't get too bored with it, maybe it gets you thinking about your own actions and your relationship with the earth. I'd say this is one of the principal things I am learning here in Mexico and from a much more unique and holistic perspective than what I was learning back home.

Picture: A mountainous forest in the state of Tlaxcala, it looks like a painting, but its a photograph, one of the most beautiful things I've seen yet.