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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

MILPA: From Seed to Salsa : Presenting the Book in the Mixteca Alta

MILPA: From Seed to Salsa : Presenting the Book in the Mixteca https://www.facebook.com/milpafromseedtosalsa/

Presenting the Book in the Mixteca Alta

Kathy and Phil-Dahl Bredine and myself delivered the finished book product to one of our most diligent families in our project in the Mixteca Alta. It was so rewarding, and a bit surprising, to see their reponse to the finished book. I was reminded that books are NOT that important in a culture where survival depends upon making sure there is food on the table, and where education of the older generation may not have taken place. I think Apolonio, the husband and father,  is able to read - many of the men are encouraged to go to grade school through 3rd or 4th grade - but the women of earlier times were not so lucky.

So here are Francisca and her husband Apolonio reacting to seeing her own kitchen on the cover of the book as well as to their lovely full-page portraits; Apolonio, who has a terrific milpa farm, and great sense of humor, had no idea what plant was embroidered on his hat, it was a gift....and we all had a good time with that one. They were all especially tickled to see their laundry hanging on the line on a double spread in the book (and grateful that we showed only their clean laundry, not their dirty laundry) ! Apolonio declared me Francisca's new 'comadre' and felt a new car was most appropriate for our new relationship....lots of laughs and a great cup of hot chocolate with Day of the Dead bread prepared by Francisca....such delightful, happy people.  Francisca and I ended up becoming 'comadres of chocolate,' a wonderful friendship!

I'm not sure how many times Francisca had seen a picture of herself, or seen such a big book, or  even knows how to read. It took her a second to recognize her own kitchen…she also has eye problems from years in her smoky kitchen. 
One of the goals of the book was to give the participants an increased sense of their own value, to the women especially, and to show them all how important their return to organics and sustainable agriculture is to everyone, both regionally and universally. I do believe the book will accomplish this as the days go by and more and more people see it.  

We are giving away about 100 copies of the book to all the participants, which will get shared and looked at - hopefully read - dozens of times per copy. CEDICAM has received 1/4 of all printed books to continue to spread the word or to use a fund raiser. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Don Apolonio, Mixteca Non-GMO Farmer

Apolonio is a happy, contented man. He has raised a large family, he has a new block house with metal roof, a small modern kitchen with a gas stove, and a traditional adobe kitchen removed from the house due to the smoke engendered by burning wood as the fuel source....where the tortillas and tamales are made. He has an oxen or two for tilling and planting, and four successful children. One son has gone to 'el norte' to earn a living, as the land, until recently, did not support productive agriculture. His wife Francisca, daughter  Silvia, and daughter-in-law Rosa helped us immensely in gathering recipes and sharing cooking techniques for their simple, healthy recipes, created from their milpa gardens and companion plants of nopales and wild greens. Delicious....

Apolonio told us a saying  in Spanish, which our co-author  Phil Dahl-Bredine then translated into Spanish a similar English phrase, whose meaning is roughly: 'if you eat food, you are involved in agriculture!' How true. Yet most children in large urban cities in the United States have no idea where there vegetables come from, other than the store.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MILPA: From Seed to Salsa, September 2015

More Advance Praise for

Ancient Ingredients for a Sustainable Future

Please send orders or questions to:

Early reviews:

Deborah Madison, Chef and Author,  James Beard Award Winner
@Francisco Toledo
Milpa: From Seed to Salsa is an extraordinary book in many ways. It is a hopeful book that shows in careful detail how extremely well the old ways of farming and living in community can not only feed rural populations but also provide them with medicine and fodder for animals.  This is a viable alternative to big agriculture and so-called improvements from elsewhere; this is a fine example. Milpa is also a remarkable book because, like the community of families that tends the milpa fields, this book is product of cooperation among some very extraordinary people—two activists, a chef, and a photographer, who all found a way to bring to light a story of hope with great wisdom and beauty, with the cooperation of the Mixtec community who live the life this book allows us to witness.  I am so grateful for this book. It is a treasure.
Stephen Scott, Heirloom Seedsman; Owner, Terroir Seeds, Underwood Gardens

Milpa: From Seed to Salsa is a gem, showing in a real and gentle way why a large diversity of agriculture and seeds are so desperately needed in today’s world. From the traditional methods of growing heirloom corn that out-produces the commercial varieties, to the ancient knowledge of growing Chile de Agua without much water in an arid climate—there is much to be learned from the techniques refined through centuries of use and the seeds that have been lovingly saved and selected for the best vigor in these uncertain times. This book is a studied look at how we can truly feed ourselves sustainably and deliciously.

Lila Downs, Four-time Grammy Award-Winning Recording Artist, Oaxaca
This wonderful book is a delightful voyage for the eyes, the spirit, and the taste buds. Through amazing recipes, photos, and narrative it takes the reader on a journey in time and reveals the relationship Mixtec with the sacred Mother Earth which has evolved over thousands of years. Using this wisdom, it points to a hopeful future rooted in diversity, balance and strength.

 Phil Borges, PhotographerAuthor of Enduring Spirit, Tibetan Portrait, The Gift , and Women Empowered
Milpa: From Seed to Salsa helps us to reawaken to the wisdom of eating seasonal locally grown organic foods, and of being grateful for all that went into making our food available to us. Most of us long for more simplicity, and more naturalness in our lives, combined with a sense of true community. Looking at these wonderful images of women in their basic kitchens, of men plowing fields with their oxen, and of people remembering to take the time to celebrate their abundant, healthy, harvest transports me back to the time I've spent in indigenous communities around the world. It's what keeps me going back year after year.

Peter Rosset, PhD, Food rights activist, Agroecologist and Rural Development Specialist; Author of  Food is Different  
Milpa: From Seed to Salsa gives us an inside look at a culture and a food system that complement each other in ways that are good for both people and for the Mother Earth. These Mixtec indigenous communities give us both "new and old" ideas as to what is possible for our modern world in crisis. 

Miguel Altieri, Professor of Agroecology at the University of California at Berkeley
Augustín, in his milpa
The Milpa campesina offers a promising ecological model as it promotes biodiversity, it prospers without agricultural chemicals while using little fossil fuel energy, and it sustains production throughout the year.

Iliana de la Vega, Executive Chef and Owner, El Naranjo Restaurant (Austin, Texas and formerly Oaxaca, Mexico), Culinary Institute of America
Milpa is a network of cultural meanings and ancient traditions, and its value lies in the complexity involved: as a method that provides a complete and balanced diet; as a symbol of union and community; and as a sustainable solution to the food crisis that we face in modern times. In Milpa: From Seed to Salsa, the elements of this Mesoamerican indigenous practice come to life in beautiful pictures and recipes stating that our corn is much more than an agricultural system. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Advance Praise for MILPA: From Seed to Salsa

We are receiving terrific advance book previews...please take a few minutes and have a look ~

It was a real pleasure having Norma Schafer (author of the popular blog Oaxaca Cultural Navigator), in my home a couple of weeks ago, and she was able to get a sneak peek of our manuscript. Her view of our book is grounded in much personal experience in her now full-time home in Oaxaca. 

And we recently caught up with Lila Downs and Paul Cohen in Seattle during their concert tour promoting their new album Balas y Chocolate. They took time out of their hectic schedules to read and then write an endorsement of our book for which we are so grateful and appreciative.

Judith Haden and Lila Downs
“This wonderful book is a delightful voyage for the eyes, the spirit, and the tastebuds. Through amazing recipes, photos, and narrative it takes the reader on a journey in time and reveals the sacred Mixtec relationship with the Mother Earth, which has evolved over thousands of years. Using this wisdom, it points to a hopeful future rooted in diversity, balance and strength.”

“Este maravilloso libro es un viaje hermoso para la vista, el espíritu, y el paladar. A través de increíbles recetas, fotos y narrativa lleva al lector a un viaje en el tiempo y revela la relación sagrada de los mixtecos con la Madre Tierra que ha evolucionado a lo largo de miles de años. El uso de esta sabiduría señala a un futuro de esperanza arraigada en la diversidad, equilibrio y fuerza.”

Lila Downs, Three-time Grammy Award-Winning Recording Artist and Composer    

For questions, please write to Judith Haden:  haden.judith(at)gmail.com

MILPA: From Seed to Salsa/Ancient Ingredients for a Sustainable Future

Chef Susana Trilling
MILPA: From Seed to Salsa.  Our sub-title pretty much says it all:  Ancient Ingredients for a Sustainable Future.

We've been hard at work trying to complete the final edits in two languages for the book we've been working on for so long now ~ tweaking the actual book design and layout, getting the proper images edited for each essay and recipe, making sure the flow is right, and that it all looks as great as we feel it should. Self-publishing is a really daunting experience, especially if you:   1. care about your subject  2. feel a responsibility to the people you are working with, and 3. want the images you see on the computer screen to match what the reader will see in the final book! Never having done book packaging before, it was a huge learning curve for us, but I  think it's finally finished. We are very proud of it. And so, off to the printer!!!

We have received such kind financial contributions along the way, both in the US and in Oaxaca, and are so very grateful to everyone...we are mostly volunteers doing this in our 'spare time' of which there seems to be very little these days. Thank you so much for your patience!

Here you have a glimpse of Susana proofing the book  a couple of weeks ago.....in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We attended the International Folk Art Fair to support the Oaxacan artisans who were selling their pottery and textiles.....

 We are hoping to have the final copies to sell to the public by the middle to end of September.....the book will be nearly 300 pages long, many stimulating essays, tasty recipes, and some nice images to top it off. Regular retail is $40 US, but pre-orders are 10% off!  In Oaxaca in September you will be able to purchase the book at Amate Bookstore, at Seasons of my Heart Cooking School with Susana Trilling, and here in the U.S. from both Judith Cooper Haden in Santa Fe/Seattle/Portland, and Phil Dahl-Bredine in Oaxaca and Silver City, New Mexico. Jesus Leon Santos will have books for the CEDICAM vounteers and members.
Jesus Leon Santos
Judith Cooper Haden
Phil Dahl-Bredine

For questions please contact Judith Haden, haden.judith(at)gmail.com