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.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


As the struggle heightened across the U.S. to require labeling of genetically modified foods, with victories in Connecticut and Main, French researchers found cancerous tumors in rats fed GM corn, while Japan and Russia shut the door on U.S. rice and wheat imports after discovering GM contamination. Here the native peoples of Mexico rallied in Oaxaca to protest GM contamination of their native corns. With your help, we of the Collective for the Defense of Indigenous Territories and 10 other organizations sponsored the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal here in Oaxaca. The People’s Tribunal is a world-wide organization begun by Bertrand Russell, which hears the protests of peoples who are the victims of governmental and corporate abuse of power.

Native corn seeds, saved from year to year.

Almost 600 campesinos from across Mexico, representing most of the indigenous peoples of the country, gathered with international figures such as Drs. Ignacio Chapela and Vandana Shiva to demand redress for contamination of their native corn varieties before a panel of international and local “judges”. The two day event in late April began with colorful processions led by a village brass band, indigenous women in traditional dress, and a Mayan priestess who led a special rite of blessing of the four directions and of an altar prepared on the ground of the myriad colors of native corn arranged in a
special pattern in the center of the gathering. Sacredness and fiesta illustrated how deep the culture of corn, of community, and of celebration is embedded in the indigenous pueblos, even in time of struggle and protest.

Declaring that “it is the sacred corn that takes care of our communities and is the one who has permitted us to live and resist during thousands of years”, speaker after speaker, all campesino women and men, denounced the efforts of governments to reduce corn to a thing, into merchandise, an object which is merely bought and sold to the highest bidder. They recounted how patented genes of GM corn have caused deformations in their native corn varieties and how these corns threatened not only to destroy the biodiversity represented by native corn, but to displace native corn from the market.

Pedro and Catalina at the CEDICAM experimental
 gardens, Nochixtlan, Oaxaca 
Scientists such as Chapela and Elena Alvarez-Buylla recounted how their research into the effects of genetically modified crops led to funding cuts, academic censorship, and threats to their academic careers. Meanwhile Indian physicist Vandana Shiva recounted how Monsanto in coordination with the origin of cotton, occasioning, in the process, the suicides of 100,00 small farmers of India. Though this court has no legal standing, the moral authority of its decisions has been part of what has delayed the Mexican government’s approval for planting of millions of acres of genetically modified corn in the northern states of Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, the distribution points for most commercial Mexican corn. 

Your financial assistance fed most of these 600 people during the two days of the tribunal.

Augustin, planting heritage corn in Tilantongo, Oaxaca.

PHOTOS: © Judith Cooper Haden
TEXT: © Phil and Kathy Dahl-Bredine

If you wish to contribute to this work, you can send a much-appreciated tax-deductible donation to:Instituto Paz en las Americas, 2645 Mountain View Rd. Silver City, NM 88061. Please write onthe memo of the check: “for Dahl-Bredine projects”.