Friday, March 26, 2010

One of Our Nation's Biggest Problems

I just heard on MN Public Radio (thank you online streaming!) that Minnesota has the lowest number of overweight children in the nation BUT 1 in 4 of its children are overweight. If current obesity trends continue, soon 1 out of every 3 children will have diabetes as adults. THIS IS NOT OK. We should all be very concerned about this, it's unbelievable. This is all related to the issue I talked about over and over in this blog....We need a complete and radical change in the way we live, including our relationship with food.

Internationally, Mexico is #2 in obesity behind the United States, in terms of child obesity, Mexico is #1 in the world.

Check out this week's MPR obesity coverage.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Guerrero's Community Police

This past week in my Issues in Indigenous Agriculture class, we read and discussed indigenous autonomy and I presented a number of examples of what different rural indigenous communities are doing to create and defend their autonomy.

The Community Police of Guerrero was one of the examples I highlighted. This is pretty amazing, and when I say pretty amazing I mean super amazing......52+ indigenous communities in violence-ridden Guerrero (because of age long disputes as well as drug trafficking) have taken their well-being and protection into their own hand in the wake of the Mexican government failing to protect these rural indigenous families. The Community Police is made up of men that give a mandatory year of volunteering as community police officers. Their services include working on community improvement projects, keeping their own pueblos safe as well as keeping other neighboring communities, who solicit their help, free from violence...AT NO COST.

Why free? Because they function under the indigenous cosmovision of communality, meaning that they understand this service as a community need and good, thus being free, mandatory and available to all. Pretty amazing concept huh? Just imagine if our society thought about things like education and healthcare in this same way. Check out how these communities take their safety into their own hands.

The Virgin/Whore Dichotomy

So as I was writing the short Killer Coke piece, I started thinking about the Virgin/Whore Dichotomy that plays a HUGE role in everyday Mexican culture. Being that I'm currently studying at what is likely the most Machista (aka sexist) university in all of Mexico (which many have said and which I have noticed), I see this portrayed a lot in social interactions amongst my teachers and classmates. I thought this article explained it pretty clearly...this whole issues is just another one of the "great" things I'm dealing with here. But, is making me a stronger and more observant person.

The Madonna/Whore Complex

P.S. I love the picture, I think it is perfect for this post.

Killer Coke

I totally forgot to show you this picture....I was in Veracruz the past weekend at a friend's house and all the sudden I found myself in this situation....and I had to take a picture of is a perfect example of how Killer Coca-Cola has its strong-hold on Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Traditional Mexican drinks such as pulque or tejate are being replaced by Coke. Many people never drink water, but consume their Coke daily (I'm not making this up, there was a special news story on this a few months back). Coca-Cola is as Mexican as the Virgen de Guadalupe (which is another great topic to blog about, I'll get on that). This is a huge problem linked to health problems, poverty and loss of Mexico's traditional culture, among a # of other issues.


Tomorrow night I'm heading out of Mexico City allllllll the way to Arriaga, Chiapas to see my family. I've never been to Chiapas but I'm super excited. This will also be the first time I meet my aunt Azucena and cousin Norma IN PERSON. For years we have talked via phone or email, but since Chiapas is so far, we've never had the chance to meet. It's about a 16 hour trip by bus to Arriaga from Mexico City.

In addition to visiting a new place and seeing my aunt and cousin in person for the first time, I'm so excited that I finally get to the amazing state of Chiapas.....I've wanted to go ever since I was little. Let me fill you in on some facts about the state so that you can see why I'm so excited...

Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico and has a humid tropical climate and contains rain forest and mountains. And even more exciting....Chiapas is home to a Mexican indigenous armed revolutionary group called the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). EZLN currently has 32 rebel autonomous municipalities in the state. Their ideology combines libertarian, libertarian socialism, libertarian municipalism, and indigenous Mayan political thought. They align themselves with the wider anti-globalization, anti-neoliberal social movement and seek indigenous control over their local resources, especially land (Wikipedia). Awesome huh? Well can look up a ton of information on the Zaptistas. While I'm probably not going to go to one of the 32 rebel communities, my cousin is going to take me to their region and show me around. I've heard it's amazing.

I'm so excited to be with my family, see new things and expand my mind. I'll tell you how it went when I get back.

Check this video out, I think it does a great job of giving an overview of los Zapatistas and their lucha.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Femivore's Dilemma

Here are a few articles that I want to share with all of you! I'd like to thank Feed Denver for sharing the NY Times article with me. The others I found online. Check out what the discussion is, it's very intriguing and would be a great topic for more research (I'll keep it in mind). Is the femivore's dilemma radical feminism or regression back to the 50's housewife style of living?

New York Times Article

Grist Article

Blog Article-The Feminist in my Kitchen

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Anthropology of Food

I discovered this amazing journal, entitled The Anthropology of Food, which is published in English and French. Unfortunately none of the French articles are translated into English (well except their abstracts), so you'll have to look for English articles. Check out the March 2007 issue, From Local Food to Localised Food, the articles are in English.

Well I find it pretty interesting, I love that it has an anthropological perspective on global and local foods issues....right up my alley and is the perspective I'm taking on my work here in Mexico. I think I've decide that I'll make it a goal of my to get published in this exciting goal to work for. Enjoy

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The true nature of things

Here is a really nice quote I took from Seng-ts'an and thought I would share it with you. In one of last year's blog posts I also shared a poem with you by Seng-ts'an (I actually think the quote is from the same poem), check it out again if you like. This kind of thinking has really helped me during a number of hard times during my journey in Mexico and will continue to help me remember what is important....especially as I near the end of this amazing and beautiful chapter in my life (sadly only 3 more months). I just really think that understanding this logic can be key to finding happiness, even though it's tremendously difficult to practice, which basically implies "unteaching" ourselves societal (OUR U.S. society that is) conditioning that teaches us that things should be and are permanent/unchanging (ex. the billions of dollars we spend on anti-aging remedies, plastic surgery etc.), that identity, success and happiness are equivalent to material accumulation and consumption (even though the U.S. has the highest rate of consumption in the world AS WELL as one of the highest rates of unhappiness and interesting). We forget that what we have learned to accept as fact is in fact only our perception and interpretation of things. I hope you enjoy it and think a little bit more about how your own grasping onto things inhibits your serenity and relationships with other.

"Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting
that we do not know the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in ideas or feelings of emptiness.
Be serene and at one with things
and erroneous views will disappear by themselves."


PICTURES: In my opinion, both of these paintings have to do with our perception of the world...what Seng-ts'an talks about-opening up to the true nature of things. They were two pieces I really liked on my visit to Moriela's Contemporary Art Museum.

Unfortunately, I forgot to write down the name of the artist and title of this first piece- sorry!

About Impossibility-Benjamin Valdez Alverez (Painting on wooden posts)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sneak peak

So I have a really fun project I'm working on that I want to tell you about. Let me catch up on some of my work this week so that I have some free time to post a blog and tell you about it! Here are two pictures that have to do with the project.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The notion of community

I'm currently doing reading my homework for my class, Indigenous Agriculture Issues, and I found this great definition by Mixe author Floriberto Diaz Gomez for indigenous community and thought it a fitting as a great definition for any type of community, not just for a strictly indigenous community, check it out-

"No se entiende una comunidad indígena solamente como un conjunto de casas con personas, sino de personas con historia, pasada, presente y futura, que no sólo se pueden definir concretamente, físicamente, sino también espiritualmente en relación con la Naturaleza toda."

Which translates to........

"An indigenous (in this case, ANY community) community is not strictly understood as a grouping of houses with people, but people with a history, past, present and future, that is not solely defined concretely and physically, but also spiritually in relation to all of Nature."
- Floriberto Díaz Gómez

How do we perceive what community means to us? To what communities do we belong to? And how do we belong to these communities? This idea has some relation to my project of sharing the stories of those in our own communities that I wrote about in my last posting.....the idea of community, something I've been contemplating recently.

Picture: Huichol art exemplifying the concept of Diaz Gomez's idea of community.