Eating NAFTA by Alyshia Gálvez

9780520291812Originally published on Latinobookreview.com

As Mexican food is being globally ‘elevated’ and reinterpreted/appropriated by the foodie elite, Mexico has seen a simultaneous rise in obesity and diabetes as access to traditional food is drastically hindered as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Eating NAFTA is an investigation of the rise of industrial food systems in Mexico and the ways that governments have decentered the state’s responsibility to protect public health, while deflecting the blame and responsibility for health problems onto individuals, especially women and marginalized populations.

Gálvez switches between personal interviews and macro-level policies as she discusses everything from migration, the role of nostalgia in food consumption patterns, the burden of labor for women, and why the public health crisis in Mexico is not just an unintended consequence of NAFTA.

Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, diabetes has become the leading cause of death in Mexico, with a prevalence of almost 16% of the population. 42% of its food is imported, and poverty (55.1%) and inequality have increased. Gálvez calls out diabetes and diet-related illness as an example of structural violence enabled by continued state-led manipulation.

“Colonialism’s extraction of raw materials and resources provided the fodder for the machines of industrialization. In the post- or neocolonial world, parasitic relationships between former colonial powers and territories continue to organize global trade and economic relationships. Only because of the relationship of economic and political dependence between center and periphery could the center become wealthy enough to dominate the global economy.”

 

alyshia-galvez-photo

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