Monday, May 24, 2010

Can Amaranth Fix Mexico's Dual Dietary Disasters?

Can Amaranth Fix Mexico's Dual Dietary Disasters?

The couple founded the non-governmental organisation Alternatives and Processes of Social Participation, which today is working in an area where three Mexican states converge - Puebla, Guerrero and Oaxaca - to conserve water resources and develop amaranth, a high-protein native grain.

"There was an initial agricultural investment to improve soil fertility, make compost and respect biodiversity," Hernández, director general of Alternatives, told this reporter ahead of the International Day for Biological Diversity, which is celebrated May 22.

But eventually the initiative took off. Under the organisation's supervision, the cooperative Quali has been working since 1994 to add value to certified organic amaranth grown on some 500 hectares by 1,100 farmers - indigenous Mixtecos, Popolocas and Nahuas in this semiarid region.

This is great - local development, native grain (and therefore well-suited for the climate), and high protein to help address malnutrition. I love it! Disturbing, though, that it's not seen as a success unless they're exporting to, oh, Switzerland. That seems to be buying into the U.S. homogenous, centralized-distribution food production model that encourages you to eat food from thousands of miles away as a matter of course, when, honestly, if you stop and think about it, that's pretty dumb.