Very recently my family and I went on a trip to Kentucky and Tennessee to watch the solar eclipse. Before our trip, we decided to take a break from our phones, computers and any portable electronic devices. They are everywhere. They take a lot of our time and sometimes develop an unhealthy attachment with ourselves materializing views or feelings. Everybody gave up of something: Phones, computer, and tablets. We had a phone with us which we used as a GPS.   I am a photograper. I tend to take pictures of all things. Not having my camera with me was going to be very difficult.

The first planning for our trip was made more than two month ago. Everyone wanted to see the eclipse and everything was sold out. On top of it, we were going to be traveling with our dog, so all hotel reservations had to be pet friendly which added a little difficulty to the search.

Finally, I found places for which I pay more money than expected but they fitted our needs. My husband wanted to drive at night. I dislike it because I can’t manage to stay awake and I can’t appeciate the views either but he was driving so I let him with the only condition that we stop after 5 hours of drive to have some rest.

Our first stop was Washinton Indiana. It was a very small town about five hours South of Elkhart Indiana.  We stayed in a small motel. Beds were very comfy. Place was very clean, which is always my main concern. Later that morning, looking to find a place to have breakfast we found a small bakery. They make their sandwiches with fresh baked bread. Breakfast was very simple but oh man… It was delicious. We went on the road again.

Our second stop was Kentucky, less than two hours away from Indiana. We arrived at our destination around 12:00 pm. Lake barkley Resort was my first choice to watch the eclipse but everything was sold out. I managed to find a room for a day only. The hotel is near Cadiz, Kentucky. It was a wooden building with the apparience of cabins. It is part of the Kentucky parks department.  It has several wooded propierties surrounding the resort.  It was spacious and clean and we had a very beautiful view to the lake from our room. There were several bird feeders outside and many birds stopped by. I took a bird guide with me and we tried to identify all the birds that stopped by.

The surroundings of the hotel were full of trees and we saw a lot of wild life specially deer. During our stay, we decided to take a hike, to visit the beach, to go to  planetarium to see the observatory  that was closed by and to assist to a “star party” where many people with telescopes would be watching the sky. Somehow we accomplish all of them.


I hadn’t been able to see a starry night as beautiful as the one I saw there since I was a child. There were no city lights blocking the brightness and no moonlight either. It was just darkness and stars everywhere. At the planetarium and from the telescopes we were able to see other planets, but the beauty was in the amount of stars and the sounds of nature.

We always wanted to go to Tennessee to enjoy nature since many friends who have visited always brag about the beauty of the place and this was the perfect opportunity. Next day we traveled to Nashville, Tennessee. It was the only hotel room I could find in the path of eclipse totality. Let me emphasize that I am from Mexico City and even thought I live a big part of my life there, I dont enjoy big cities anymore, nor I like country music either. Well, Nashville is both of those things: A big city and a country music city. We tried to go to the city to see what was around. After spending an hour we decided to go back to the hotel. Too many people. Too caotic. Too hot. Too much country music everywhere. It didn’t fit well with us. We will give it a try tomorrow after the eclipse crazyness was over.


We were determined to keep enjoying our vacation even with those downs. Our hotel was in a very nice area. For the eclipse was going to be an  “eclipse party” at the hotel pool in the roof. It sounded just what we needed. A secluded area without many people around and with a perfect view.

The “eclipse party” was fun. A lot of people gather with the same interest. There were not many kids around but my daughter and another young lady. They had fun at the pool while the other ones watched the sky. We stayed in the rooftop for about three hours. We watched how the moon stteped in the path of the sun light as if we were watching in slow motion. The moments before the eclipse were exciting. We saw some clouds passing by, we were hoping that they would’t stay. They didn’t. The moon was almost all over the sun. Temperature started to drop. Sky started to look grayish. We were very excited. It finally happened. The moon cover te whole surface of the sun. All you could see was a dark circle with a halo of light. what astronomers discribe as the crown. Almost two minutes of amazing view. I couldnt keep my eyes away. It was a wonderful view. We even could see some stars. My kids were so excited and couldn’t believe how beautiful it looked. My husband and I had already a previous experience with a total solar eclipse in 1991 in Mexico City and we wanted our kids to witness the same.


It was a weekend full of science and starts. It was a weekend full of memories. Even thought I don’t have a picture of any of the beautiful things I saw. I have them in my memory. I have them in my heart. These are the things that you can’t forget. This are the things that we tend to materialze without giving them the real value. For a weekend, we saw life at it’s best. We lived experiences that won’t repeat again. We had fun and in the process we experience what is keeping us together: Love.







Save money, Save the planet, Save yourself. 5 tips to cut down on food waste.

As a mom, I am in charge of buying the groceries for my family to eat every week. I am also in-charge of the budget. I feel responsible for the nutritional quality and the quantity of the food I buy. For years, I struggled to run an efficient kitchen where food was always available and nothing went to waste.

I used to buy a lot of food every week and my fridge was always stuffed. When I go shopping to buy my veggies the beautiful colors, shapes and textures often distract me. I want to buy everything, but there is something I have learned the hard way: Buy only what you need, not everything what you want.

Fridge Friday

Every month I used to clean the fridge. I noticed I was wasting almost a third of the food in I have bought due to decay. It shocked me. There are a lot people starving around the globe and I was hording food to later throw it away uneaten. I started thinking about making this system more sustainable, save some money, cut down on food waste and be more respectful about the planet. After doing some research, I notice this was happening not only in my household but in many more around me. According to the United States food safety administration, the amount of food waste that goes uneaten goes from 30 to 40 percent or as much as 20 pounds of food per person per month, that amount is the equivalent to $165 billion in food each year, but the damage is not only for the economy. The planet also pays a toll since about 70 percent of our water and 50 percent of our land is used only for agriculture. Reducing on food waste helps people, the environment, and also the economy.

food waste

I started making small changes to my shopping, improved kitchen storage and cooking. A little effort has gone a long way and I have made a big difference. My best practices to reduce food waste are:


1.- Shop smart

Having a plan when you go shopping will help you stay focus. Make a shopping list based on the menu you have planned for the week and be realistic about buying what you will use.



  1. – Use don’t loose


After doing your shopping, re-arrange your fridge. Use always the food that you bought first. Use the model “first in, first out” (FIFO). Using leftovers is another way to save. There are a lot of dishes that you can create and are as appealing and delicious as the original dish. If you can’t use them as a second dish, all leftover fruits, vegetables and portions can be preserved by freezing them. I use frozen portions in case of emergency. When I am very busy and I can’t cook, I reuse some of these portions. Ziploc bags and reusable containers have become my best allies. Make sure you mark them, what food it is and the date you save it. Depending on the item is the amount of time it can stay in the freezer.


  1. – Check again

Before go shopping again, check your cooler. See what do you have that can be used for next week’s meal plan. Get a budget, and make sure you don’t go over it. Try to include your leftover’s in the next’s week plan.




  1. Process all your food in one day

Try to process all your food in one day. I assign a day of the week where I know I can chop everything, bag it and get it ready. It not only will save you money but also it will save you time.


  1. – Educate other your family and other people too.

When I say this I may sound like my mother: “Eat everything in your plate, there are a lot of kids dying of hunger around the world” But the problem is  bigger with food waste. Yes, there are millions of people around the world without food. Wasting it, is not only matter of saving money or the planet, or other people, is saving yourself too.  Little changes accumulate and together we can make a difference. There are a lot of initiatives on the Internet that can help educate and inspire people to keep food out of the trash. Most often people don’t know how big the problem is. Communities that have programs and Initiatives to donate and avoid waste inspire other people to save food. Talk about your stories of success with your friends and family. You will be surprise about the amount of people that are interested on the topic.


Hands on a globe --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

If you want to know more about the topic or to get more information:



  1. FAO Report: Food Wastage Footprint Impacts on Natural Resources

This 2013 report looks at the impact of worldwide food waste on the environment.


  1. NRDC Report: Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill.
  2. FAO Report: Global Food Losses and Food Waste


  1. Wasted Food

Author & blogger Jonathan Bloom writes about “why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it.”


  1. .  U.S. EPA Resource Conservation – Food Waste website offers tips and strategies (mainly to businesses, but a lot is applicable to others) for reducing food waste and finding ways to divert it from landfills.












The pleasures of having a dog.


My dad never let us have a pet. He always said animals are a big responsibility. If we were to have a pet we would need time, money and dedication. All we had was love. When I was 13 a stray dog came into my house looking for shelter.  That stray dog all dirty with matted hair had five puppies on one hot summer day in the corner of the garden. My mom supplied a blanket and some towels for the babies. My dad had told us not to fall in love with them because as soon as they could live by themselves they will have to go. We saw them grow and tried to detain time so they wouldn’t grow fast and have to leave. My father made arrangements with the neighbors to see who will keep them. People come in and out trying to choose the cutest puppy. He found five volunteers to adopt them, four puppies and the mother. But one stayed alone. After months of trying and because I never stopped begging, he let me have her, a small light brown puppy full of fleas and dirty. I felt like I had never been that happy. I named her Duquesa, (Duchess). She grew to be a cute puppy. She was long like a wiener dog, with short legs and very chubby. We played together and ate together, and as I went through puberty she comfort me a lot. There wasn’t a better time to have a pet. I never knew how much you could love a dog. She was so innocent and loyal.



The only picture I have of Duquesa.

It didn’t last long. Five years later a car ran her over. She did not die instantly. She looked okay, but after a couple of days she started having seizures. She was suffering. My dad took her to the vet, he put her on the truck of her truck to rush her to the doctor but she didn’t make it. She died on a cold night in 1995. I cried for days and I had a lot of remorse. What if I had take her to the vet sooner? What if I had kept her leashed and that car would never have run her over? I could not change anything. She was gone. My first dog and was gone too soon.

Later on, I got married and had kids. My son always wanted a pet but I felt the same way as my dad; I needed time and space for a dog. My son had two hamsters and a fish. My daughter was born and she loves animals. She begged and begged for a dog, but I couldn’t say yes, she had a bunny instead. One of my cousins got an English cocker spaniel. We went visiting and fell in love with him.


English Cocker Spaniel.


My cousin told me that she could get me one since the lady who gave it to her had another one. We were so excited since my husband agreed to have it. Ended being that she could not give us the dog. The lady backed out, but, well, we had tried. A couple of weeks later, we went to the humane society of Elkhart County. We walked into the cages and guess what we found…

dexter add

Canelo Picture from the humane society add.


I found a beautiful American cocker spaniel, vey quiet and nervous. I ask the ladies if he was available. They say it was but before we make arrangements every one in the family should visit to make sure he will adapt to us. We all visited that day. His name was Canelo (Cinnamon). We took him home two days later. We changed his name to Dexter. He is a very insecure dog, very nervous but loves to play and sleep. It has changed our lives. My husband loves him, runs with him every afternoon. My daughter plays with him and tries to coach him but he does not like small people to give him orders. Still, they have a lot of fun together. My son’s mood has change a lot since we got him. They love each other, they look for each other and always they naps together. For me, Canelo has also being a mood lifter. He is silly and stubborn and is always by my side. He likes company, and so do we.


Pictures of Dexter since we found him. Top right: his first day at home. Left: a couple of months later.

This dog has enriched our lives, He has made us happier and healthier. Besides providing us with companionship and entertainment. He has developed my kids with patience and responsibility.

Several scientific studies have showed positive health effects for people of all ages with regard to emotional and physical well-being. These studies were based on human-animal interactions specially on improvement of social attention, behavior, mood, reduction of stress-related parameters such as cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure, fear and anxiety, and cardiovascular health, system functioning, improved pain management, reduced aggression, enhanced empathy and, improved learning, self-reported anxiety and depression,

Dogs help you boosts our moods. Playing with them makes us feel happier. Hormones like the dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters that are associated with pleasure and tranquility, are released when you have a dog.

But be very careful before adopting. Caring for a dog takes a lot of responsibility, patience and commitment. First you have to ask for advice in what kind of dog is good for you or your family. Having a cute dog in not enough. Before adopting you need to make sure the breed you are trying to get fits your family needs. If you are trying to get an older dog with a family of kids it won’t have the patience or energy to play around. If you are older and decided that you want a puppy you wouldn’t have the energy that it requires. Remember the pets from the shelter will need patience and time to adapt. You wouldn’t know what training is required until you get it home. Planning is a great start. Go visit the shelter, play a little with the dogs that may interest you. Ask an expert for advice and look for a quick guide to help you choose.



Dexter sleeping on the couch.

If you want a puppy adopt from shelters. They have thousands of animals in need of love and patience. My father never knew what a great gift Duquesa was and how after 22 years I miss her dearly and appreciate her companionship. Same for Dexter, It has been a pleasure having him home. He keeps us active, since he needs time to run and loves to play outdoors, also had helped us through stressful times and makes us feel calm. We have learned to be less focused on ourselves and to be more tolerant people. But not only for us, I bet we have changed his life too.

For more information about how to adopt a pet visit: www.petfinder.com


Make your garden native again…


I love gardening and be outdoors. One of my favorite things to do is seat by the bushes and watch wildlife pass by. Birds, butterflies, insects and of course flowers are my passion. I was so excited for the weather to heat up because it means it is garden season again! This year I decided to do a little more planning than usual because the selection of plants that I have are not native at all. I decided to help the environment and the wildlife and plant more native plants. According to the area that I live in my gardening zone is 5a, which means low temperatures go from -15 to -10 F. Gardening zones are used to indicate where various permanent landscape and plants can grow.



If you want to change your landscape to a native one, you have to choose plants, shrubs, or perennials to make sure they survive and grow year after year and tolerate year round conditions in your area, such as the lowest and highest temperatures and the amount and distribution of rainfall. Anyone can have a native landscape that works in harmony within your own environment, it provides a safe space for wildlife and is attractive even in the most urban setting.

Going native can get done in small steps, since my garden is already planted I need to change it step by step. I am going to start small, replacing an exotic specie with a native one. Making a small area in my yard into a native plant garden and by replacing a section of turf with a bed of native plants.



Any piece of your property that you change to native can help offset the habitat losses from development and will stop the spread of invasive plants. It will also save you money and time because is easier to take care, uses less water, doesn’t need fertilizers or herbicides.

You need to do some research about native plants and wildlife. Planning is the most important step. Find an attractive design that works well for you and keep in mind the well-being of the wildlife.



Step one: Make a plan. If you need some advice of what kind of garden is ideal for you according to your area and space available, there are many resources on the internet that can help you decide, also you can find a specific set of native plants that fits your interest.

It is very important to do an inventory of the plants that you already have.  Are they native or exotic?  Should you keep them or replace them? The Aubudon Society has a simple guide to help determine if your plants are native or not.



Step two: Design a native plant landscape. All wildlife has basic requirements: Food, water, and cover.  If you want to attract a diversity of birds or butterflies to your property, you’ll need to understand their basic needs and your needs as a landowner. Meeting wildlife needs can require specific plant diversity, careful arrangement of plant types, and the addition of feeders, nest boxes, and water features.

Once you’ve made your plan and selected the native plants you want to use, you’ll need to find and buy plants and make sure they’re planted correctly.


Step three: Maintain your native landscape: The good news after your plants are in place and established, they require less maintenance than their non-native counterparts. They don’t need fertilizers and they will use less irrigation.

As gardener we have a unique opportunity to address the biodiversity crisis, not only in animals but in plants too. Adding even a few native plants to your landscape can create gardens that honor your State’s rich natural heritage.








Can you stop the sweet killer? 5 most recommended ways to prevent diabetes

Every year 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, an illness that cost an average of 176 billion for direct medical costs. Diabetes is a chronic illness and it surges when the pancreas can’t produce insulin anymore or when the body can’t use insulin efficiently.

The history of type 2 diabetes in my family is long. We have lost at least 6 people in our family in the past 3 years due to complications of diabetes. They were from both my mother’s and my father’s side. My family has a very high risk. I think often if it is possible to decrease your chances when your DNA has all the information.

As I am growing older, I think a lot about the origin of diabetes in our family. My grandparents were from a rural area. They had fresh food to eat every day. Their diets were based on fruits, vegetables and grains that they collected every day. The consumption of animal proteins was very sporadic, small animals like chickens or turkeys where consumed once in a while and on the weekends, maybe two times a month, others farmers sold cow, pig or lamb meats they were consumed fresh as well. They had a refrigerator but almost never had anything on it but milk or cheese. They had very active lives. My grandfather from my Father side was diabetic. He woke up every morning at 3:30 am and needed to leave by 4:00 am. He didn’t have breakfast but coffee, bread and fruit. He worked until to 2:00 pm, then he came back home and have dinner. He stayed at home for an hour of two and come back out to work again. At night they had something small, fruits or milk and they were in bed at around 8:00 pm. The consumption of refined sugars was not an issue because none were available.



My mother is diabetic, she lived part of her childhood in the country, her hometown was very isolated, so her diet was very similar as my grandfather’s. Then they moved to the city. They weren’t sedentary at all, they walk every day, every where. My grandmother cooked every day, so they never eat out or junk food. My mom said she considered herself being poor and couldn’t afford to buy any candy or soft drinks. She was diagnosed with diabetes at 45 years old.

I lived in the city my whole life. Life in the city is not sedentary, you have to walk everywhere, my diet as a child was very healthy too. My mother cocked everyday and our diets were based on fruits, vegetables and grains but we did eat met everyday. The availability of refined sugars was broader I have a sweet tooth and I am overweight. People always tell me to watch what I eat or I am going to get diabetes. Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong but the question is… Can you stop the sweet killer?

According to the American Diabetes Association you are at high risk if you don’t exercise, you are obese, you have family with the illness, you have had gestational diabetes and you are older than 45. A test to know your risk is offered at this website. So, I decided to find out what is my risk. Turns out that I met 4 out of 5 requirements, and the results shows that my risk is 50%. This is like flipping a coin. I may or may not have Diabetes when I grow older. This was just basic information, but what is next? It does feel like I am playing Russian roulette right now… It left me thinking, I need to have a plan, I need to think ahead. I am going to make sure I stay at the good 50%. So what can I do?



Lets start talking about sugar, what does it make to your body? Sugar by itself is very important to the human body, in the right amount, it gives cells energy. But in excess, it will damage your teeth decaying them. It can cause fatty liver disease. Sugar also causes huge amounts of dopamine release in the brain, which make sugar very highly addictive.

I love sugary stuff, as soon as it hits my tongue my brain gets delighted with pleasure, this has a scientific explanation: when you eat sugar, it sends information to your brain to shoot out serotonin and endorphins hormones that makes you happy. Sugar also makes your body resist leptin, a protein that helps keep your metabolism in check. When you eat sugar your body never sends the signal that is full.

When talking about type 2 diabetes, the most common type, prevention is key, but the answer is not that simple, the causes of diabetes are more than genetic or dietetic factors, it is in the style of life. There is a chain of events that could help you develop the illness especially if you are at risk.


Here there are 5 simple ideas for prevention:


  1. – Keep a Healthy diet

Keeping a healthy diet will help you keep your sugar levels down. Sugars are considered to absorb very rapidly and give almost instantly energy to the body. If is not used at the moment, it will be stored as fat. The consumption of fructose present in vegetables and fruits gets metabolized and stored in the liver. A diet with high contents of fructose will develop fatty liver and insulin resistance causing type 2 diabetes.

Sugar liberates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps the mood and improves wellbeing. But is also considered a cause of depression and anxiety. So if you are using a little sugar, you may have the effect of well being, but when using a lot you may have the anxiety and depression. Rapid changes in sugar levels in blood can provoke irritability, changes in mood, and nervousness.

Make healthy choices and try to eat at least 3 times a day with at least a portion of each food group. Limit the consumption of salt and sodium. Eating more fiber will benefit your blood sugar levels. Choose wheat and cracked grains, legumes like beans, dry peas, lentils, soy and vegetables.

A diet rich in sugars and carbohydrates will elevate your risk. The high consumption of sugary drinks specially soft drinks, energy drinks, sport beverages and fruit juices, refined sugar, honey, heavy syrups and desserts, elevate considerably the blood sugar levels. And most important keeping a healthy diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and being overweight are the number one cause of diabetes.


  1. – Drink water

Water keeps your body hydrated. The water you drink helps process and regulate the blood sugar in your body. The glucose depletes fluids, and to get rid of it, the kidneys will try to pass it out in the urine, so the higher your blood glucose, the more fluids you should drink. People with diabetes are always thirsty. The amount of water needed to regulate your sugar levels is a ratio of 6 molecules of water for every molecule of sugar. That is why is imperative that you drink at least four 8 oz glasses of water a day to protect you against high blood sugar.

  1. – Decrease your stress level.

One of the most difficult things to avoid diabetes is control of stress levels. Stress has serious effects on your blood sugar. Hormones like epinephrine and cortisol increase during stressful events. They encourage the liver to produce glucose and insulin resistance. Add time in your routine to practice mindfulness. Learn what triggers your stress and try to keep it at minimum.

  1. Sleep well.

Every body is different. There is not a perfect number of hours to sleep per night; sleep requirements are based most in your daily life and in your genetics. Doctors, recommend at least 7.5 hours a day.

In 2015 a study from the journal Diabetologia to a more than 59,000 women ages between 55-83 determined than women with less than 6 hours of sleep will increase their risk of diabetes and the more you are awake, your resistance of insulin increases, raising your risk of pre-diabetes.

  1. – Keep yourself active

The sedentarism of our life styles requires that we are aware of our physical activity. Practicing a sport regularly, will reduce the amount of sugar in your blood stream and has many benefits for your health. A mix of cardio and aerobic exercises will level your sugar levels and decrease your possibilities for getting diabetes.

Sounds easy right? Just follow these 5 simple steps! But the reality is that sure hasn’t been for me. I work a lot, I am a housewife, I am a student, I am a mom and have many activities outside my house. Cooking healthy is one of my biggest issues, my slow cooker is my best friend but almost nothing can be eaten fresh. Gym? When? I feel like I have no time and when I do I feel guilty because I don’t see my family, so I choose not to. Of course it makes my life NOT stress free. But having done this test got me worried, I need to start doing something for my health. I want to break the chain or at least delaying it. So I am going to do it, let’s do it.

If you want to be diabetes free, follow these simple steps and remember that prevention is key. It is very important that you know your risk and have a plan to defeat your odds. For more tips and information visit the National Institute of Diabetes or the American Diabetes Association.
























The taste of my summers…



Ever since I can remember, my cousins and me spent our summers on the farm, “La Loma” where my father was born and raised and “San Nicolas” where my mom was born. These two rural areas were four hours away from home on Mexico City at the time. As kids we always waited impatiently for the last day of school, so my dad could take us to spend our two months summer break around the rural areas.


Fig.- La Loma, Acambay. My father’s home town.
Fig. 2.- San Nicolas, Solis. Edo de Mexico. Where my mother was born.

Every year we watched the corn stalks grow in the “milpas”. The maize was small when we arrived at the beginning of the summer. and ready to harvest when we left. The soil at the milpas is great for growing corn, it is light, moist, fertile and well drained and summer is the perfect season for rain. The milpas were the perfect place to play hide and seek and pick up fresh flowers. My grandma had a large variety of corn seeds, red, black, yellow, white. The black kind have been always my favorite. She pulled out the sack and started measuring the corn into a large wooden container and dumped it into a large pot. It needed to be cooked with lime (calcium hydroxide) and water to remove the seed’s skin until it was ready for tortilla dough the next day.

Fig 3.- Nixtamal bucket.                                               Fig 4.- Women walking to the mill.

I always enjoyed the long walks to the “molino,” a place where you pay to get your corn grind. It was far away from the house. To be first in line, we had to leave the house very early. After the long line at the molino it was her turn, she got on her knees and start rolling the dough that was falling down in little balls, over and over again like snowflakes until her bucket was full. She never let me do it because “con la masa no se juega” she said, in fact, you don’t ever play with the dough. I knew that later on, she always would give me a little piece to make my little tortillas. As soon as we got home, the wood stove was already burning. The “comal” this special smooth, flat griddle was getting ready for hundreds of handmade tortillas that day. I would never forget the taste of fresh, hot and fluffy 10” tortillas that were going out of the comal. She had to do a couple of runs until she could stack some. The little hungry kids were watching everything and waiting on every tortilla to eat it right away.

                                    Fig 5.- Blue corn tortillas                                                        Fig 6.- Recently made corn tortillas  in hot griddle

We are in the middle of the summer. Corn is medium size. The spike and tassels started to show in the plant, in the next couple of weeks the large ears start to fill up! We were impatiently waiting for fresh corn in the next couple of weeks. I heard my grandpa right after dinner when corn was ready. “Corta unos doce” get twelve ears, he used to yell. The fresh, crunchy and juice taste of grilled corn satisfied our tummies every day. But it was not just the fresh cut corn we were waiting on, also the “caña”, this flavorful stick that looks like bamboo stick with very sweet juices. After we ate the corn caña was dessert.

Fig 7.- Corn fields

Maize is ready to be harvested. The tassels are dry, and cobs are getting hard. Grandpa needed a lot of help to pick it up. He had many “peones” people who he hires to help him harvest. They brought sacks of dry cobs from his other milpas. We sat down in the patio and watched him making piles: one here, one there, that one over there. One by one the corn cobs got their place. I could see pride in his eyes. These were his own seeds. I never understood what he was doing, but this activity that has occurred for centuries is call domestication. He always saved the pile with his better seeds for next year’s crop, and if someone in the community was in need of seeds, he will reach from this pile to share. The second pile was for sell, and the third one to feed the animals.

Fig 8.-Donkey carrying dry corn stalks, that will serve as farm animal food.
Fig 9.- Sweet corn stalk. You can suck the juice out of it, right after you take off  the ears of corns


Summer after summer, things were changing. No fees or tariffs were applied to agriculture products to exports and imports when NAFTA began. Something that looked like an advantage was a big disadvantage for farmers. Some activists were fighting for the farmer’s rights in some areas before NAFTA started, but in “La Loma” they didn’t know about it. New seeds from the USA and Canada are invading the market. The Mexican farmers don’t have a chance to compete with North American farmers. Their subsidies are 20 times less, doesn’t have machinery, irrigation systems or other resources to have a successful production constantly.

Corn seeds imported to the USA and Canada are having a great impact in the economy and social well being in rural areas. The poor are now poorest and the rich are now richer. But this is only the social and economic problem. which all together is a complicated but is the ecological part. Agriculture in Mexico is changing, specially corn production. GMO’s are endangering the biodiversity and centuries of domestication of our creole varieties. These seeds are being used without any strict regulation to protect them from contamination with transgenic genes. Areas where creole varieties are cultivated need to be protected. Farmers need to have an opinion and need to be part in decision taking on their land. Experiments in open fields in areas where only creole varieties are cultivated, are threatening centuries of hard work and challenging nature because we don’t know the consequences yet. We are giving power to the big biotechnological companies the rights over our seeds. The DNA is being transmitted from one plant to another, and the consequences for the environment, the farmers and the economy impact in Mexican farms is not yet safe.


Fig. 10.-Dry corn ears.

Grandpa does not have as many milpas as he used to. He still plants his house milpa with his white big seeds, just for his family. He watches it grow every summer as we used to. But there is not more help, not kids that are excited for the cobs or the “cañas”. Everyone went North. They consider is not worth it to cultivate their lands since there is not profit. My grandpa’s seeds are still productive, but he is afraid that some day they will disappear because nobody else will plant them. My voice is his voice, the voice of thousands of farmers that live in Mexico in their small farms, still clinging with nails and teeth of those valuable seeds that are not just a crop but also their cultural heritage. I say no to the privatization of seeds, no to the experimental use of transgenic corn seeds and yes to the recovery the food sovereignty of Mexico.

Hunger in America

Last week, I participated in a family activity at my kid’s school. As I crossed the building, I came upon a sign in the front door of the cafeteria that read “get a free food box and free books, come in.” Who doesn’t like a free book, right? So we went in. All over the tables, there were a variety of children books all piled up. I took a look; most of them were for kids 4-6 years old. Since my kid is not in that age range anymore we struggled to find something she wanted. The lady at the front desk insisted that we should take a food box. They had way too many. So we did.

When we got home, we open that box. A couple dozen vegetable cans, a couple pasta bags and a box of very sugary cereal. We have a house pantry stocked, and I thought of myself that is something we always take for granted. Not everyone is so fortunate. What could I cook with this food? Certainly many dishes with the cans, but we could not prepare anything with just that, and more than half of them will go back to the food pantry because is either something we would not eat or has no nutritional value whatsoever.

I always thought of the United States as a place where food is plenteous. It was very shocking to contemplate the absurd reality, how many families in need live in my school district that we need boxes of food? I have been living in this country for more than 12 years, and I’d never heard other people talking about this issue. Maybe politics, pop culture or sports, but as a community we have missed the suffering of other people, the poor and the hungry.

I am shocked by the number of hungry children who live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, where I never thought they had a problem with not having enough to eat. The hard reality of many families is heart-breaking: Kids living knowing how food stamps and local food pantry works. According to a 2015 report from USDA, 42.2 million people lived in food-insecure households in the United States. 6.4 million of them are kids and they live in households that struggle to afford food, on top of that, I found out that there are more who are unable to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children. Meanwhile, according to the Food Nutrition Services (FNS) in 2016, the number of people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been reduced because of the reintroduction of certain restrictions. The consequences has been the increase of illnesses derived from the of the low consumption of healthy food like diabetes and obesity.

As for us, how can we help decrease food insecurity in our neighborhoods? Certainly, I suggest that volunteering for small non-profits in programs that help provide nutritious food or food education for families, encouraging people to donate money not cans to food organizations, decreasing the demand for grains, encouraging people for policy change. We can help fight food insecurity, as individuals, as costumers, and as responsible citizens. We certainly can make a difference.