We are so happy to be involved in a project that questions the way we nourish ourselves. We know that we can discover thousands of stories behind the food system, through what we eat. We can see our path, our history as humanity, we can create new ways of caring and we can even imagine different futures together. A way of all coming together, eating what is good for Mother Earth and for us.
We live in different parts of México, so it is complicated for us to imagine it as only one territory or even one country. We have so much diversity across this land known as México that it is impossible to identify only with one. It is like we have been living in different cultures; with different languages, climates, soils, and animals, which also have within them the most delicious and diverse food and cooking techniques. We’ve learnt through our experience that we can identify with specific cultures instead of only one country. Since then we intimately enjoy every single part we visit.
We were born in Mexico City, and we know that our city’s story is one of the most complex and sad in the world. Our city – once called the navel of the moon – used to be a water network that connected people from the desert to the highland forests; from the shrubland, to the cloud forests, and the tropical jungles. Stories are remembered from a time when everything, from spices to turquoise, moved through the waters that surrounded Tenochtitlan to reach distant places across the territory. The people that lived there were a water culture, everything was surrounded by water. The rivers were terraced, the lakes had major causeways, and the major food system was managed through natural and artificial wetlands with a technology called chinampas, which means enclosed by reeds.
It took 500 years of a conception of progress to dry our city, colonized by a culture that does not seem to understand its connection to water and which has generated the highest demographic concentration in our country. It is only because of the people that live in the outskirts of the city that we can all eat, as they have remained the guardians of ancient knowledges, seeds, and practices – keeping alive a reciprocal relationship with the land. It is important to connect with these different understandings and most important to protect, promote, and offer gratitude to them.
In order to introduce the people that hold the knowledge of food systems to those living in the city, we are creating an exhibition in a museum.
The museum is a way of presenting the art of those people who remain close to the land and those that provide food to the city. In our visit to Milpa Alta, what stood out to us as the most beautiful thing were the women who expressed how they inhabit their lives as a resistance to colonialism.
With them, we are co-creating the conditions to design a beautiful installation in the museum on the food they produce, the techniques they use, and the recipes they have conserved for all these years. In Spanish, the place is called Milpa Alta, where Milpa is a biodiverse plot of corn, beans, amaranth, squash, chili and many more plants, whilst Alta means high. In Nahuatl, the place is named Malacachtepec Momoxco, which means place of hills surrounded by shrines. The conception of shrine is related to the ancient terraced fields bordered by eight volcanoes. The name itself tells a story about the importance of their place.
Chemuku, a friend from the Fork to Farm project running a dialogue in Coastal Kenya, relayed how important it was to keep seeds, so we can use them to sing to the land and bring back the water to the crops. Maybe we cannot bring back the living water to Mexico City, but we can still sing to the land and be grateful to her.
We are encouraged to find new stories that can bring us closer to emulating a coherent way of living, that of the people that remain close to the land. We are encouraged to share it through art to the people of the city so that we can create a free space to generate movements that shape the structures and communities in which we inhabit, such that caring for each other and the territory we live on becomes the priority.
We believe in foods themselves telling us many stories: the stories of the heavens, the winds and rains that nurtured them, the stories of the soils that sustain them, the stories of every other plant and animal that shared time with them, and the stories of the people, their practices and dreams that took care of them.