Tag Archive: culture


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Man in the Moon

God’s Garden

Getting to food sources will be hard if global warming depletes habitats and biodiversity for plants. Natural disasters increase costs where transporting and sharing food is fixed into the ecosystem.

The world is dark and full of life at night. All change isn’t good but it’s important to realize that change brings new emotions and determines further outcomes. The change brought to the desert is undeniable. We don’t know how any ecosystem is affected by the choices we make. Something is out of place without sequence and staying in tune to Mother Earth. Disrupting this is ignorance. Maybe we need a new tribe with a different language. It may be impossible to explain the end of the world, but the possibility that we could understand it is nearly as impossible as knowing where we came from and how we were made. We need to look at what Mother Earth gives us and what choices we make from our unique gifts. The world consists of many tribes. Land and transitions have caused many fights over boundaries. The roles are unknown but I believe in synergy. We are believers in a system where mass destruction happens often and is very hard to overcome.  Financial institutions may be in question but what about the true cost. We need to look at how our earth and its citizens will live in the future. Our ecosystem is in peril. However the darkness is not to be feared. In the morning we wake up and shouldn’t need to feel scared anymore. We can see ‘her’ eyes and ‘she’ can see ours. If we could examine how to fix problems based on fear this would be simply the greatest place to live. The next generation’s need for safety and love would be in place.

College Essay

Analysis of Methods in Agricultural Sustainability and Mexican American Cuisine


Thriving Chicano communities expose the inter-relationship of honoring historical and racial pasts. Cultural roles structure themselves around becoming American. Meticulous actions and the study of class differences enrich Mexican American lives. Working in barrios, suburbs and inner cities shaped the identities of women and men but Mexican Americans will motivate and build resistance to assimilation. Adjustments to a new society don’t erase all of the culture’s traditional function. One million immigrants from Northwestern Europe arrived in America from 1901-1910. In the 1900s immigrants from Central and Southeastern Europe were arriving. Italians, Jews and Poles as well as Mexicans were introduced to standard American meals. In the 1920s ethnic differences were amplified by the relationship of different foodways. Cultural and geographic origins reflect the status of Mexican Americans after 1900. New immigrants flowed into the United States during the second agricultural revolution.

Indians were living in southern New Mexico in 4000 B.C. Later Southwestern Indians called Pueblo Indians began to develop civilization in 500 A.D. Hot Chile peppers with tomatoes was an early version of salsa. They often used sage. Native American tribes in the 1800s in Texas and California were introduced to ranching and cattle by the Spanish. Indian families grew crops of wheat, maize and other grains. Fruit trees, apples, pears, peaches and figs where grown and the women made juice out of whole fruits. Food evolved from the inspiring flavors of Mexican cuisine. Eggs rancheros, cream enchiladas, sour cream, longhorn cheddar and green chilies where established as Early Spanish dishes. All meals were served with tortillas and often Old Mexico flavor reached north of the border. Mexicans prepared raw fish. Jerky curing was a processes developed by the Pueblo Indians where strips of meat where hung out in the sun. Where Spanish is spoken refried beans are often served with every meal. Tortillas are made with masa and Indian hominy lure the consumer. Flat cakes are thin and made from lye treated corn. “Eating and food shapes the history of nations and the world. The discovery of new food and its spread and control have shaped the growth and decline of civilizations, the exploration of the world, and the dominance or dependence of groups and nations. Conventional history is written about politics, famous people, and “big events.” It could just as easily emphasize the historical significance of spices, potatoes, crop and animal hybrids, canning and freezing techniques, irrigation and fertilization, or convenience foods.”

War influenced cooking and essences from many cultures entered cookbooks. Gulf Coast red snapper had a Mexican accent included with Chili con carne, grass-fed beef, a lot of jalapenos and mole. The technique of making mole involved grinding and pounding nuts and seeds over mortar. Chocolate and the pulp of a variety of chilies made the mole tasty.

1 Harper, Charles, and R. Le Beau, Food, Society, and Environment: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2003:4.

Not many wild pigs where available but some dishes were pork based. A popular soup was Sopa de Arroz. Irish American troops persuaded Mexican cooks. The Mexican American cook during this time had a recipe for Welsh rabbit that was served with tortillas. Tastes have a way of ignoring borders and Mexican cuisine added flamboyance. A drink called tequila con sangrity was often served. The drink often found at fiestas was this Bloody Mary tequila; tomato juice and hot pepper. Another drink often served was pulque; a strong liquor from maguey cactus. Drying meat was sprinkled with pepper to help keep flies away and many dishes where cooked over porous stones with a fire in a hole. The hole was lined with cactus leaves and lined with mud and stones with another fire on top.

When Texas was going through Reconstruction and the Great Depression was beginning to shape America’s agriculture and trade economy the Mexican haciendato was eliminated.

Demographic change in the 1920’s was not only started by Federal land reclamation programs and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in Texas, but influenced the Mexican American assimilation process. Diverse cultures were slow to develop in the middle class and this was a time where working-class organizations in the Southwest began. “By the 1920s a standard American meal included a breakfast that might have eggs, cereal, fruit, toast, and coffee; a light lunch of a sandwich and soup or salad; and a substantial dinner with meat as a central entrée, potatoes and vegetable side dishes, and dessert of cake, pie, or icecream.”2 Some of the traditional foods of this era include: gooseberries, wild cherries, raspberries, fish, tough cheese, hard bread or tortillas made of corn that where a variety of colors: blue, yellow or green.

2 McIntosh, E. American food Habits in Historical Perspective. Westport, CT: Prager, 1995, 112, quoted in Harper, Charles, and R. Le Beau, Food, Society, and Environment: Upper

Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2003:4.

Gaps developed between parents and children. Forces that motivated migration carried remnants of the Old West, faith and folk healers, riches and poverty. The 1930’s Great Depression activated the unemployment of restaurant cooks, bartenders, waiters and street vendors in the Southwest. Many citizens in Los Angeles and San Jose visited Mexico for Christmas but parents and children experienced different amounts of exposure to ethnic cleansing. Mexican Americans were experiencing the need for protecting authentic cooking and mole was still served for Christmas using chilies. “New immigrants were fond of multifood dishes such as stews, goulashes, and Italian pasta, tomatoes, and sausage. But these were frowned upon by the native-born Americans, as well as by dietitians and home economists.”3 The second generation immigrants were more likely to abandon old country food habits at the same time Ethnic foods became big business. Children took their parents to buy food that had a more general taste. The Neighborhood store was called the El Mercado Mexicano (The Mexican Market). Herbal remedies were common. Behavior patterns vary and integration into American society develops to sustain communities of people. Ties and cultural attachments neglected to include other immigrants. Ethnic guidance is critical to immigrants with economic disadvantages. Mexican cuisine was fragmented and the immigrant worker’s role was as an unskilled physical laborer.

The Mexican border experienced urbanization. Tijuana was urban from the start and never went through the agricultural or mining phase. Vegetables like onions, broccoli, celery and asparagus were sent from areas in California. Potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, carrots and spinach were harvested by Mexican Americans and sent to Ciudad Juarez. Technology displaced many Mexican Americans from crop production and crop harvesting so they moved to the Upper Midwest, Mountain States and Pacific Northwest. Jobs in restaurants were held at tourist attractions. The middle class was restoring health in the border towns because of the railroad. The politics of culture was connected with language, culture, English only initiatives, and other xenophobic movements directed toward undocumented immigrants. Acculturation refers to the complex processes that take place when diverse cultural groups come into contact with one another. Changes in consumption of food show an increase in American hamburgers, French fries and stews. Traditional Mexican foods like tamales, white rice, and corn products were no longer the preference. Geographic isolation imposed upon Chicanos by poor transportation and communications services in the 19th century and early 20th century helped to establish a new culture. For reasons of history and geography, New York elite restaurants leaned more toward classic European standards while Los Angeles was more multicultural.

3 Harper, Charles, and R. Le Beau, Food, Society, and Environment, 73.

Most Mexican Americans worked as laborers in agricultural fields. “Farm-labor strikes in California varied widely in size and number from those in other States during this period. In 1934 small strikes were either spontaneous in origin or led by unaffiliated local organizations. The large-scale organizing campaign by left-wing unionists during 1935 and 1936 brought a rapid increase in the number of local and federal labor unions in agriculture.”5 “The crops in certain areas were located close to urban centers- lettuce near Salinas, and celery near Stockton and Los Angeles- and the workers were subject to the stimulus of the urban labor movement. Harvesting these crops: lettuce, celery, asparagus, melon, grapes, apricots, peaches, and pears required more experience than was needed for other fruits and vegetables. Cutting was in the category of semiskilled rather than unskilled labor and wage rates were usually higher than those paid for seasonal harvest work.”6 The Bracero Program from 1942-1947 had predominantly male “guest workers” who later brought women and children across the border. Traditionally labor was strictly divided for male and female roles. Women worked in packaging strawberries, canneries and as vendors. Only in the sugar-beet industry did the Government attempt to set minimum wages for field laborers.  Chicano and Chicana workers included undocumented immigrants in the United States. Jobs were created by war and Mexican Americans were cheap and provided abundant labor. Food plays a prominent role in social activities concerned with relations of power, cooking, cuisine and culinary equipment. Prayer to Catholic idols involves an offering of food and drink to receive blessing and advice.

5 Jamieson, Stuart. American Farmers and The Rise of Agribusiness. New York: Arno Press, 1975: 23.

6 Idib., 37.

            Tex-Mex is native to America and is defined as half Mexican and half Texan. Chili and other Texas or Cowboy fare was unknown to Mexico. Nachos were introduced in the 1950s. “After a period of experimentation and eventual acceptance by various European ethnic immigrant groups, the restaurant market in Omaha was prepared for the diffusion of Mexican restaurants (and Tex-Mex foods) sometime between 1965 and 1975.”7 Anti-Mexican sentiments were common in the mid-19th century. “Thus, exotic or ethnic Mexican food made the transition to popular ethnic American food.”8 Store-bought corn tortillas for tacos and Old El Paso salsas were an “Americanized” version of Mexican food. Immigrant labor in Chicago and the Eastern United States were needed because of the expansion of agriculture. “Expansion of farming occurred after World Wars I and II and helped the growth of additional agribusiness industries and job opportunities for immigrants in Omaha.”8 “During the Great Depression, the reduction in jobs and economic opportunities led to a decline in Mexican population in Omaha, but the need for cheap labor during and after WWII led to another increase.”9 Examining how food is a possible vehicle for acceptance and assimilation enhances the understanding of growth and distribution. In the late 19th century cultural goods and services offered new jobs. In the early 1990s Taco Bell and Taco Johns were introduced as Mexican fast food. On-location gourmet catering for media productions and developing the multicultural experience most tourists wanted to encounter were main events. After the Cold War businessmen compared la frontera with Romanticized Spanish culture. Interior design expressed Hispanic female stereotypes and neocolonial adoptions of world cuisine.

7 Dillon, Jeremy, Paul R. Burger, and Barbara G. Shortridge. The Growth of Mexican Restaurants in Omaha, Nebraska. Journal of Cultural Geography. (2006).37 8 and 9 Ibid., 41-42.

Mexican food items include menudo, mole, beans and rice, and tamales. Tex-Mex items include fajitas, nachos and chili. Influence and acceptance of Tex-Mex over traditional Mexican foods can be explained because they are easy to cook and include ingredients such as canned beans and chilies, bottled salsa, bagged tortilla chips, nacho cheese spread, and pre-formed taco shells.  “Like the Taco Bell commercials of the early 1990s, the restaurant commodifies la frontera as a thrill-seeking threshold preceding contact with the exotic Other. The patronizing multiculturalism implied in the restaurant’s interior design and its means is overtly expressed by its owners, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, in their cookbooks and their first cable television show, Too Hot Tamales. The show prefaced its neocolonial appropriations of world cuisine by reviving a gendered variant of the Hispanic fantasy discourse. Since the early years of Hollywood, the female stereotype of the Latin “hot tamale” or half-breed harlot, has conveyed the image of a lusty, hot-tempered, sexually promiscuous, racially mixed, and therefore degraded mestizo subject.”10 Another comparison is high and low culture. Haute cuisine isolated the Mexican cuisine in acknowledgments of savage (bad meat) and depravity. The “Spanish” label was designated to peppery enchiladas and tamales. The fantasy culture landscape was affixed as a Spanish background. Businessmen where profitable and worked smoothly.

10 Valle, Victor and Rodolfo Torres. Latino Metropolis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2000. 68.

The perception of a city’s architecture as well as culinary design offers nostalgia, exoticism, and a nouvelle chic society. A city’s visual style was producing a culinary performance. Reinterpreting indigenous recipes by non-Latino chefs was usual practice. Latino staffs assembled cultural foods while chefs played the role of culinary artists. Restaurants and cookbook writers used different items to establish themselves from the menu catered to the working class. More elaborate menus of authentic Mexican dishes where familiar only to elites. Still it is difficult to gauge the authenticity of Mexican fare. Chicanos hungered for a sense of community. Tortillerias offered ethnic associations and this was a place where being Mexican in public was ok. The nativism and xenophobia of the early 20th century was renewing itself by instituting what it meant to be American. Food service was one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. Waiting tables was also a large section of the workforce. These jobs offered low wages. “Clearly, the tamale, and especially the taco were becoming popular establishments that served a variety of foods to mostly white clientele of European descent.”11 The Chicano movement protested the upsetting treatment of grape and lettuce harvesters in the 1960s. “Boycotters launched a successful appeal to the local community to support the decades of the 1960s and 1970s.”12 The 1970s Mexican cuisine replaced so-called Mexican restaurants. “Several trends contributed to L.A.’s decade of culinary fame. One began in the 1970s with the dramatic increase in dining out, reinforced by the gentrifying return of Reagan-era yuppies, who practiced multicultural dining in formerly abandoned urban enclaves. Second we note the emergence, particularly since the 1970s, of the world market economy and trade in agricultural commodities, along with important multilateral treaties and organizations (such as NAFTA and the WTO). This trend has been connected to the continuing decline in small farms, a process that began in the 1890s.”13

            11 Dillon, Jeremy, Paul R. Burger, and Barbara G. Shortridge. The Growth of Mexican Restaurants in Omaha, Nebraska. Journal of Cultural Geography. (2006). 51.

12 Rose, Margaret. Woman power will stop those grapes: Chicana organizers and middle-class female supporters in the Farm Workers’ Grape Boycott in Philadelphia, 1969-1970. Journal of Women’s History: (1995) 3.

            13 Valle, Victor and Rodolfo Torres. Latino Metropolis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2000. 90.

The meaning of El Dia de Reyes (Jan 6) changed and the significance of holidays was decreased. Mexican Americans serve churros and tamales at every Spanish festival. Traditions of cooking and storytelling are observable. The lower-class households don’t buy meat or dairy products and many people are malnourished. Indigenous fruits and vegetables and many types of Mexican candy are found in Mexican grocery stores. Social and cultural histories show that immigrants migrated as children, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged adults, and senior citizens. Over the past several decades, motherhood has intensified Mexican American women’s visibility in the United States. There are many differences in Mexican gender ideology in which the women’s role is very maternal and the father’s role is to provide financial support. “After several frustrating decades of trying to reinvent the city as a metropolis of high Euro-American culture, Los Angeles’s elites, led by the downtown “blue bloods,” latched onto the city’s ethnic mosaic to sell Los Angeles to the national media as a “world-class” multicultural city.” 14

Most Mexican American women made money in domestics. Curanderismo is rooted in ancient indigenous culture. In its current form it is a blend of indigenous spirituality and Spanish Catholicism. Families of both classes ate meals of corn, wheat flour, beans, eggs, granulated sugar, potatoes, and chilies. Lard was an essential item and meat products where slightly used. As it has developed, it has taken a woman beyond the usual homemaker’s role, but keeps her within the realm of the nurturing being. The women were in charge of food purchasing as well as food preparation and storage.

14 Valle, Victor and Rodolfo Torres. Latino Metropolis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2000. 90.

Until recently, there were few role models for young Chicanas who wanted to retain their culture and still succeed in a world they themselves defined. “The current socioeconomic condition of Latinos in Los Angeles can be traced directly to the relentless emergence of the global economy and recent economic policies expansion, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), that have weakened the labor participation of Latinos through the transfer of historically well-paying manufacturing jobs to Mexico and other “cheap-labor” manufacturing centers around the world. Further, we must address the impact of U.S. economic globalization on cultural production, particularly that of popular culture, in the United States and worldwide.”15  Avocados and whole grapefruits where eaten frequently. Fruits like strawberries, oranges and pomegranates where common in Mexican American diets. Vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds were also enjoyed by a majority of the Mexican American community. Rituals and folk Catholicism now flourish in Arizona and New Mexico, but the participation in the larger community still has roots in Hohokama history of 1000 AD. The advanced way of life seen today is different from Indians who came in contact with the Spanish. Before the time of Christ, Indians were raising corn and maize as a result of contacts with Mexico. When the Spanish came to the Americas they were introduced to exotic fruits and vegetables. Domesticated corn, lentils, millet, squash and beans were the first to be borrowed from this group. Irrigation reached the Mississippi valley and people grew cereals, and beets in Kansas and Missouri.

Larger communities established a variety of customs and changes in linguistic preferences signal more profound acculturation changes in knowledge of historical factors or food consumption patterns.

15 Valle, Victor and Rodolfo Torres. Latino Metropolis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2000. 6.

Still, a number of children are unable to compete with other children in material possessions and try to find their place when many of them have no adequate master of either Spanish or English language. Their cultural differences will become less and less, and leadership is needed in the homes of Mexican Americans to develop basic emotional trends. Strong boundaries around the Mexican American group and ties to the land are suspended by activities in cuisine. Nostalgic ads where being run during religious holidays when 1,000s of Mexican Americans where negotiating and boycotting. “The family made their living harvesting prunes and plums in the coastal areas and picking cotton and grapes in the San Joaquin Valley. Shortly after the end of the nine-day fast, Food Fair discontinued grape purchases.”16 Constant cultural understanding is felt at the supermarkets where families can supply their kitchens with all the essential ingredients.

The roots of immigration and conquest by the United States offer a contrast between Spanish and English empires. Dominance of Hispanic groups and the Mexican conquest in South Texas by landowners tells a persistent story of working class families. Comparing the Harlem Renaissance with Mexican American social discontent develops out of histories of deportation, threats and the importance of food-supply. Migrant farmworkers from Colorado to New Mexico pick the seasonal crops enjoyed from the marketplaces we are shopping at. Many hours are spent so restaurants can serve cherries, apricots, peaches, apples and pears. In the 1930s, after the Repatriation Program deported 400,000 out of Mexico by force, economic and political chaos was followed by starvation. When we can get lettuce, grapes, avocados and plums inexpensively we find little in common with each other. Ethnic cultures concentrated in large metropolitan

16 Rose, Margaret. Woman power will stop those grapes: Chicana organizers and middle-class female supporters in the Farm Workers’ Grape Boycott in Philadelphia, 1969-1970. Journal of Women’s History: (1995 4.

areas also are distributed into mainstream American life. Crop production involves more seasonal employment because of peaks and troughs. Most Mexican Americans imagine being employed on crop farms. The value of United States produced fruits, nuts, vegetables, melons and horticultural specialties such as flowers and mushrooms involves hand-harvesting. Harvested oranges, grapes, apples and lettuce commodities exceed the value of United States wheat crops. These jobs require constant physical demands, exposure to bad weather and toxic chemicals. Poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water make living conditions difficult. White workers, by comparison, were often considered undependable; they were unable or unwilling to perform the necessary farm work at the prevailing wages and working conditions. Mexican workers were easy prey to exploitation, not only from grower-employers but also from labor agents or contractors of their own race. Some organizations led small strikes of vegetable workers and cherry pickers demanding 6 cents per box instead of 4.5 cents. Men were armed with tear-gas bombs and patrolled the areas to make a few arrests. Race conflict and periodic raids were motivated by Mexicans relations with white women during WWI. Competition for jobs during the depression years of the early thirties was aggravated among growing numbers of local unemployed and imported transient laborers from Texas to Ohio. The lifestyles and appropriate behaviors of being “American” are difficult to learn and structured around many contradictions.