Center for World Indigenous Studies
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The “Chia Histe”

Published: June 4, 2014, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

Commercializing natural or wild foods and medicines is not a new phenomenon.  It has been going on since the early colonizing of territories and peoples around the world.  The Chinese, Arabs, Turks, as well as the Maya, Romans, Persians, Egyptians, the Kingdom of Zaire…you name the epoch or the people and you will see that commercializing foods and medicines form the wild has been a staple of human colonization for thousands of years. Most of this colonizing and “commercializing” took place when the world’s population was less than 400 million and the world’s biodiversity had not been devastated by development (raw materials extraction, deforestation, climate change, pollution of the air and water, the spread of toxins and so on). Now the world has more than 7 billion people and extensive human-caused destruction of the environment.

Meanwhile, 1.3 billion people in about 6000 indigenous nations occupy 80% of the world’s last remaining biodiverse regions of the world. And, it is the synergetic relationship between indigenous peoples in relation to their micro climates and their environment that has ensured the biodiversity that still exists supporting life as we know it. As long as indigenous nations can live unmolested in the biologically rich regions of the world, their cultures maximize balance between human need and the capacity of nature to regenerate.

Human use of plants and animals as well as geographic spaces can become unbalanced when human demand exceeds the capacity of natural life (human as well) remains in relative balance.

Individual and corporate entrepreneurs such as Dr. Wayne Coates (commercially developing various wild plants) and Bob Moore (Red Hill grains)

Yes, Stupid Bob and a host of other “entrepreneurs” have jumped onto the “chia” wagon with terrible adverse effects not widely commented on by the media or the entrepreneurs themselves. Consider: 1. The price of chia from Acatic, Mexico (the original place for the highest quality chia) has risen more than 250% in the last year and a half. The cost of what was a simple staple in Mexico is now out of reach (cost wise) for most of Mexico, and 2. The chia being sold as the “miracle food” in the United States in drinks, candy, bread, and yes, Stupid Bob’s $12 a pound package is not from Acatic, but farms in Australia, California, Texas and Argentina and lowland areas in Mexico. The result? people are buying the lowest quality chia (significantly smaller levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and often elevated levels of Omega 6 instead (the low level growth produces Omega 6 and only those plants growing at 1500 meters or higher and below the 20th parallel produce 63% Omega 3…the highest. Once again the pursuit of profits results in serious adverse effects for the people who originate the plant and low quality for those who pay high prices. You are right. Thank you Stupid Bob and all the other “entrepreneurs” seeking to make a buck at the expense of people’s health and well being. It may be true that Dr. Coates and Bob Moore have good health as a motive for their customers, but they clearly have no understanding of the adverse effects of commercializing wild foods on people and the land as they commercialize chia.

Chia is the target for commercial development though it is like the 300 and more maize varieties in Mexico the staple food of much of the population. These culturally produced foods are now in danger due to commercialization on a massive scale. The four storage bins in the great city of Tenochtitlan in 1520 held three months of staple food for more than 200,000 people. The bins contained four key foods: maize, amaranth, beans and chia. Chia was mainly produced in Acatic to the north west of Tenochititlan. Chia is still grown and harvested in this remarkable location especially suited for the best chia.

The chia histe is repeated in many indigenous territories around the world where medicines are the target by pharmaceutical companies and “super foods” are the target of commercial food companies. The result of commercial development of natural foods and medicines threatens indigenous peoples’ well being around the world; and their development into packaged goods for the masses threatens the health and well-being of metropolitan populations as a result of commercial processing that reduces food and medicinal values.

Thank you “Stupid Bob” and “Commercial Coates.”

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