[NOMADE DES MERS] To the discovery of the Milpa or the Three Sisters

Carnet de bord

Publication date: January 20, 2020
Authors: Corentin de Chatelperron
Location: Mexico

Today, two thirds of the seeds sold in the world belong to four multinationals: Bayer-Monsanto, DowDuPont, Syngenta and Limagrain. This privatization of living organisms is not without consequences for biodiversity. According to the FAO, the loss of 75% of agrobiodiversity and the sterility of industrial seeds constitutes a real risk for world food security. Preserving the farmers' seeds, as Chepe and Tsomanotik do, is essential

After several weeks at sea from San Francisco, we are welcomed by whales off the Mexican coast! It’s a good thing because we are interested in a problem…weight.

While Mexican gastronomy is appreciated all over the world, 70% of the population is overweight or obese ! In just a few decades, agribusiness has invaded the country and modified ancestral agricultural and dietary habits.

Our goal: to learn how to cook a local dish that is good, complete, economical and ecological !

Tsonomatik's model centre experiments with all kinds of low-tech systems. Here, a solar dryer, to preserve the excess fruits and vegetables.

We have an appointment with Chepe, a young student in agroecology. With the Tsomanotik association, they are fighting to preserve and spread the knowledge, seeds and recipes of their ancestors. In addition to a large farm, where schoolchildren, farmers and international volunteers meet every day, this center experiments with many low-tech systems: solar water heaters and dryers, phytodepuration, dry toilets, lombri-compost, production of mushrooms on corn waste… A good moment of sharing on our respective techniques !

Chepe made us discover the Milpa, also called the “Three Sisters”. For thousands of years, this combination of corn, red beans and squash has been the basis of the Mayan diet. These plants grow naturally in symbiosis: they help each other to grow better. The best part ? Together, they contain all the nutrients needed for a complete meal !

Diana and Reina use cooking to address issues such as nutrition, agriculture or health in Chiapas communities. These weekly meetings also allow the women to get together, exchange freely and gradually gain autonomy in a family model still very patriarchal.

The cooking method is also important. The women of the village of Quetzal explain to us how to make the nutrients of the corn assimilable: the “nixtamalization”. A process, dating back to pre-Columbian times, consisting of cooking the grains in a basic solution (water + wood ash or lime). The paste obtained is used to make tortillas, tamales…

We also discover the “Patsari” stove : an improved fireplace that was widely used in Mexico.

A phyto-purification system purifies all the grey water from the centre (kitchen, shower, dishes) before reusing it for watering the garden. To preserve water resources, the entire centre is also equipped with dry toilets. The waste is used as fertilizer in the fruit orchard after a few months.

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