Center for World Indigenous Studies
A Think Tank of Activist Scholars
Biodiversity Wars Donate Amazon Smile

Forgotten Foods: Reclaiming Life

Published: December 12, 2011, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

Contemporary commercial globalization–the kind celebrated by banks, pharmaceutical corporations, Walmart and mining and petroleum corporations–has resulted in an unforseen backlash in the Fourth World.  Hoping to scoop up hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples as new consumers of manufactured foods, electricity, artificial chemical compounds in the form of insecticides, fertilizers, seeds, farm equipment, detergents, and pharmaceuticals globalized corporations and their supporters in states’ governments bending to the World Trade Organization advertize and push relentlessly into small communities the world over.  Promoting themselves and advocates of sustainable development, the modern-day globalizers are eagerly seeking out more and more people whom they hope will become dependent on their manufactured goods.

This is dangerous and extremely short-sighted for the present and long-term health and life of humanity–indeed, Fourth World peoples.

The modern-day globalizers pressing their “sustainable development” agenda pre-suppose the artificially manufactured seeds insinuated into countries and their small farmers through trade agreements, for example, are widely known to be less nutritious, more expensive and the basis for forced dependence.  Farmers and subsistence food producers the world over are pulling back from the so-called “civilized” grains, seeds and other foods introduced into indigenous communities by corporations and state sponsored trade agreements.  Small farmers and susbsistence farmers are realizing that dependence on these corporations and using their products not only create a dependence, but the products are expensive and undermine the diversity of native foods.

On every continent, Fourth World peoples are pulling back and reclaiming their native foods, their cultural practices and their own sciences to explain and solve problems.  Fourth World peoples are reinventing their own systems that permit them to solve the challenges they face and continue to promote life. The trend is growing world wide.

Mexican government officials have tilted heavily in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)with the United States and Canada.  Small farmers and subsistence farmers have seen the subsidies once flowing from the government collapse forcing them to compete with industrial farms that mainly export produce.  Small farmers and subsistence farmers must feed themselves and their family.  Their best approach to the heavy demands of cost and technical requirements imposed by NAFTA is to retreat into a system of agriculture that has provided the best foods and high nutrition for more than three thousand years.  They are reclaiming the milpa and they are trading seeds among themselves.  They are producing nutrient rich foods in substantially larger quantities per hectare than the industrial farmers even though they produce small quantities–sufficient for their family and neighbors.

The pattern of stepping back from globalized dependence is perhaps the most important consequence of World Trade Agreements.  The people who once produced the world’s food are reclaiming their role as the true food producers that ensure the continuity of life.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

access here