Hope for a Beleaguered Planet....
Our book Milpa: From Seed to Salsa - Ancient Ingredients for a Sustainable Future explores through a blend of essays, recipes and documentary photography how the ancient agricultural knowledge and the wealth of 1000 year-old seeds and planting practices still in use among the Mixtec peoples of southern Mexico can help us to meet the ecological and food crises of today.
The essays, written in conjunction with campesino farmers, serve as a warning about the complicated dangerous effects inherent in the rapidly expanding distribution of GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds in Mexico, the birthplace of corn. Our documentary cookbook discusses alternatives for campesino farmers across the world and gardeners and consumers who care about food safety. Using the example of the Milpa planting system in the Mixteca Alta region of Southern Mexico just north of Oazaxa City, the book supports recent studies by UN investigators that show that small plots of land, heritage seeds and sustainable practices can in fact feed the world while enriching the soils on which we all depend for life…….
Milpa contains the traditional recipes lovingly shared by the local indigenous Mixtec women, allowing readers to re-create the culinary magic that flows from this ancient agricultural system. Recipes are painstakingly tested and photographed in traditional indigenous kitchens as well as in a professional modern test kitchen. Please purchase the book, below.....
All Rights Reserved: © Phil-Dahl Bredine, © Kathy Dahl-Bredine © Judith Cooper Haden Photography, © Susana Trilling SOMH.
Monday, April 9, 2012
"CAJETE," The Milpa's Ancient Ecological Native Wonder
In the villages of the Mixteca Alta there is a special kind of native corn that should give pause to the sometimes overweening pride of our modern scientific era and to its scorn for the ignorance of previous “less scientific” ages. It is commonly called “cajete” from the form in which it is planted in small indentations or “cajetes” in the dry fields. It is a very ancient corn in a land whose indigenous scientists invented corn from a parent plant called “teocintle” around 10,000 years ago. That feat alone, which accomplished an unequaled botanical leap from a wild plant with no cob or husk to “modern” corn with no apparent intermediary species, should humble our scientific hubris.
In each indentation planters drop 3 to 4 seeds of corn, a native bean seed and the seed for native squash. By June the cajete Milpa is complete with its complementary planted varieties and the spontaneous edible plants called quelites that will grow between the rows. A full food system for both Mixtec families and native soils.
© Phil Dahl-Bredine
© Photographs Judith Cooper Haden