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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"The indigenous vision: the purpose of human life is ultimately to create harmony within the human community and with the natural world....."

(This is the first of the monthy newsletters from Phil and Kathy Dahl-Bredine as they transitioned from Maryknoll Lay Missioners to independent activists within an isolated village in the Mixteca Alta of Mexico).

                                                             November, 2009

Greetings to you all from Oaxaca!  The difference you see in this newsletter represents a change and a challenge for us this fall.  The Maryknoll Lay Missioner Association, because of financial difficulties, is consolidating its work and has decided to move out of the Mexico region. 

Faced with the option of moving to a different country to start new work with Maryknoll,  we, along with the four other lay missioners in Mexico, have decided to stay and continue to work on the projects that are going so well here and producing exciting results.  We plan to continue the same work as before, perhaps as Maryknoll Affiliates, though we will no longer receive support from the Maryknoll Lay Missioners Association.
Why stay in Mexico and why San Isidro Yucuyoco?  How could such a small and isolated indigenous village have any relevance to what is happening in the world today? What puts San Isidro and the Mixteca Alta in the center of what is most important about what is going on in the world today is that here an ancient indigenous people has decided to change universes. Young campesinos who grew up in an eroded, treeless landscape with degraded alkaline soils that spawned hunger and migration, decided in 1983, that this, their impoverished universe, did not have to remain so.

Since that time, spearheaded by the indigenous organization that these young campesinos created, the Center for Integral Campesino Development of the Mixteca (CEDÏCAM), villagers have reforested thousands of hectors of barren arroyos and dug hundreds of kilometers of contour ditches on the mountainous slopes to retain soils and recharge the aquifers which feed area springs, by capturing rain water before it washes down the steep slopes. The green shade of San Isidro’s pathways is due to their work, as are the new forests that fill the valleys of nearby villages such as San Antonio Tilantongo. Now they have turned to confronting the key issues that face our world today: the food crisis, the ecological limits of the planet, the corporate dominance of the world’s food system, and the threat to an indigenous agricultural biodiversity, which is the foundation for most of the foods the world eats today. And through the work of Niño a Niño, the village young people are joining in.

At the same time, these indigenous peoples are regaining the confidence to say to a world whose Western philosophies and political and economic systems are having devastating effects on the ability of the planet to sustain life and on the social fabric of the human family, “We have a better vision!” Underneath all of its weaknesses and human pettiness, life in San Isidro, symbolic of indigenous communities around the globe,  is based on the indigenous vision that the purpose of human life is ultimately to create harmony within the human community and with the natural world that is, in fact, our Mother the Earth. The indigenous balance of the “I” and the “We”, which is variously called “estar bien” or “being well”, or “el buen vivir” or “good living” here, is proposing itself as an alternative to the predatory resource wars and devastating destruction of the life of the planet to which the ideologies of Western culture have brought us.

Phil Dahl-Bredine
Kathy Dahl-Bredine
As always our main purpose is to communicate with you from our view in this corner of the world.  But if you do wish to contribute to this work, you can send a tax-deductible donation to:  
Instituto Paz en las Americas, 2645 Mountain View Rd., Silver City, NM 88061.

Photographs © Judith Cooper Haden 

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