“We have a commitment to protect what we have. Here, we grow everything we need: corn, pumpkins, chiles, flowers for our bees – and at the same time we respect and take advantage of natural cycles. We never run out of food, we don’t have any food shortage because we don’t only have food, we have healthy food. For the farmer’s families, the crops and bees are a gift from nature because the nectar from the flowers sweetens life.”
– Leydy Pech, indigenous Mayan
The indigenous people of Mexico are key to generating a new model of society which is more respectful of nature, the environment and biodiversity. Due to their close relationship with food, their knowledge of the land and farming techniques, the indigenous communities, for centuries, promote and preserve an agriculture model which is fair to the environment and people.
During the recent visit of Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior in Mexico, the Mayan Warriors (Mayan communities) invited the Rainbow Warriors (Greenpeace) to join in protecting Mexico’s biodiversity with a symbolic ritual and thanking the Mayan gods and nature for providing healthy food.
The Mayan communities preserve the legacy of their ancestors; a historical process which joins popular knowledge, traditional forms of production and trade, the natural and cultural diversity and the celebrations and rites around gastronomy.
Nowadays the Mayan communities are facing life-threatening issues; deforestation and the use of agro-chemicals for the implementation of monocultures with transgenic seeds that are depleting all of the local biodiversity (plants, animals, microorganisms) which they have guarded for thousands of years. All of this is breaking important natural production cycles of their foods. As a result, the industrial and chemicals intensive farming model is challenging the Mayan’s identity, culture, wisdom and food sovereignty.
The industrial agriculture model, which has been developed in the northern regions of Mexico and based on large monocultures, and the use of agro-chemicals and transgenic seeds, is degrading the ecosystem’s ability to produce enough and healthy food for Mexicans. It is also displacing the small producers in the south of the country; small scale farmers that had intelligently opted to maintain an ecological way of farming.
But the richness and diversity of Mexico and its Mayan roots is present most of all in Mexican food. The Mexican cuisine has been declared a human heritage by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) because of its great diversity in its natural ingredients which make diverse recipes possible. We believe It is our responsibility as consumers to protect and promote it by choosing ecological and local products. It is also a government’s responsibility to ensure that appropriate funding is diverted towards ecological farming programs as opposed to the current industrial, chemically intensive farming model which is promoting corporate interests at the expense of people and nature.
We can achieve this altogether, from the countryside to the cities, and demand healthy food for all without destroying the environment and the glorious Mayan traditions and heritage. We can be part of the global food movement which, from China to Europe and from Africa to South America, is demanding one simple thing: #FoodForLife!
Aleira Lara Galicia, is an ecological farming and food campaigner with Greenpeace Mexico
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