Seed Story: Conversations with Seedkeepers, Food Growers, and Activists
Val Valdez - Descubriendo Mis Maices: An Ethnobotanical Pilgrimage
17:00:57 Thanks everyone for joining. Our monthly seed story. This is Renee Free. I'm the educational coordinator at Seeds in Common.
17:01:07 And I just want to give us a couple of minutes to let a couple other people join in on the conversation.
17:01:13 But I have Val Valdez here to speak with us today about this wonderful journey she took through Central Mexico earlier this year.
17:01:19 So we'll get to hear more from her, but we'll just wait for a couple of other people coming in.
17:01:26 Val, it looks like you shared, the seed story with some of your friends because I've been getting some emails saying, hey, I need the access link.
17:01:32 Oh yeah, I, I did. One of my friends was like, you didn't tell me you're participating in this.
17:01:37 Is like, oh yeah, I guess I didn't like really promote it. And then I was like, should I have promoted it?
17:01:42 And then I was like, well, maybe let me send it to some people. So, and all of them have been super great.
17:01:48 They're like, oh yeah, we totally will attend this. I'm like, okay, awesome.
17:01:51 Well, thank you everyone for showing up. It's great to see all your beautiful faces. Let me see if I can get a gallery shot in here.
17:01:59 Yeah. Hello everyone. Thank you for joining. We'll just wait a couple more minutes as we get a couple other people coming in.
17:02:09 But yeah, thank you once again.
17:02:16 I like your background.
17:02:21 Thank you. It's a photo I took a while ago. Also, thank you for having Bell here.
17:02:25 Oh, neat.
17:02:30 Yes, yes.
17:02:28 I'm so excited to hear them speak.
17:02:33 Very cool. We'll just give it a couple other minutes. I'm just gonna check on one thing on Facebook. I'll be right back.
17:03:15 Well, we are live on Facebook and we are recording this because we do share our conversations of these seed stories on our YouTube channel.
17:03:25 We also convert them into a podcast and we do have them shown on Spotify, Google podcasts and then also internally on our own web page.
17:03:33 But yeah, I guess I'll just get into it and then Marissa, I'm sure you'll let in some other people as they do enter.
17:03:41 But just to reintroduce myself, my name is Renee Free. I'm the education coordinator at seedson Common and I'm joined tonight by my colleague and friend Marissa Joe who is the health and justice coordinator.
17:03:53 She's waving right now. And so what we do with these monthly seed stories, the seed story conversations with farmers, see peepers and activists is that we try to focus on people that are doing this great work in the food industries, doing working with organizations.
17:04:09 That are having immense impact and their respective roles within the food industry. And so as many of you all already know, we have Val Valdez joining us tonight.
17:04:21 Thank you so much, Val, for sharing your story with us.
17:04:26 Well, thank you guys so much for having me. I've decided to share and thank you all who are joining in today.
17:04:35 Well, I'll just give a brief little introduction. And then, Val will just get into your wonderful journey here shortly.
17:04:45 So. Val is born, grazed, and now based in Elvia, Day San Luis, Colorado.
17:04:50 That's correct. Still, correct. Right? Okay.
17:04:53 Valentina Valdez, also known as Val is a fifth generation farmer eager to merge her passions from the environment, human centered business and agriculture.
17:05:03 She is an activist for equitable and sustainable agriculture and self-identifies as a radical connects ecofeminist.
17:05:10 She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2,020 with the bachelors and business admin work for emphasis of study with social entrepreneurship.
17:05:19 Her academic as well as lived experiences have guided her towards her current area of study where she is studying economics as if humans mattered.
17:05:27 I love that. By learning about cooperative and collective enterprise. The power of mutual aid and how we can scare this neoliberal ship.
17:05:35 Consciously in a direct and more sustainable direction. Her most recent work, which we will hear all about, is entitled.
17:05:42 And apologies for my Spanish. Discubriando, Mis, and ethanol botanical pilgrimage.
17:05:49 Project documented is documented a 6 month seed journey in the land of our ancestors, Central Mexico.
17:05:55 Through photography, poetry, collage, and of course seeds. Did I miss anything there, Val?
17:06:04 Oh, I think she's frozen. I'll give her a minute.
17:06:20 Okay, technical difficulties all. I'm sure she will come back in here shortly.
17:06:28 Let's just give it another minute.
17:06:33 So as Val comes in, does anybody wanna offer anything about Val? Seems like your colleagues or friends.
17:06:42 Oh, here she is. We can hang on to that one for later.
17:06:49 Hey, Val, welcome back.
17:06:52 Yeah, I don't know. I got kicked out of my Wi-Fi. I don't know.
17:06:55 Hopefully it will not so.
17:06:57 No, it's all good. So yeah, just went through your bio, wanted to see if there was anything that I was missing or should have included.
17:07:06 Oh no, my bio is great. Yeah, I as you mentioned, I've been kind of studying economics as you as if humans matter.
17:07:17 It's kind of something super important to me trying to figure out We can create economic opportunities, but like in an equitable manner.
17:07:25 So yeah, and I'm super passionate about. Seed saving and line based activities and trying to figure out how those things fit together and maybe they don't fit together.
17:07:38 Maybe it's a matter of like separating those things and yeah, the more you learn the more questions you have.
17:07:43 But yeah, that's definitely great on the bio.
17:07:47 You wrote it. But yeah, journey of life, you know, so, anyways, let's get into it.
17:07:55 So earlier this year. Maybe even I guess you've been planning since last year. You had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time in various places across Mexico while researching native plants, seeds, and of course connecting to your roots.
17:08:10 Please share with us. You know. What you were doing well, you can expand on what you were doing there.
17:08:18 Where exactly did you go? If you give us the timeframe, you know, the, you know, what was happening in our agriculture at that time.
17:08:25 And then of course the why so please take it away.
17:08:28 Sure. So yeah, as you mentioned, I was on, see, search, sea journey, last, it was a 6 month period, starting last is almost gonna be like a year ago.
17:08:41 November. 15 of last year all the way through basically I got back the very beginning of May.
17:08:48 And part of it was very much. Trying to escape the winter. It's very, very cold where I live.
17:08:59 But, a greater intentionality was around. Wanting to reconnect with 3 main things, which was indigenous corn varieties, the communities that are stewarding them, and then kind of the spirit that came before me is something that I've written a lot and talked a lot about.
17:09:18 Which is just kind of. Getting back to this connection with what is my mom's ancestral homeland.
17:09:26 And that I am not. Haven't been as connected to just do the fact that I was born and raised in the United States.
17:09:34 And So yeah, I was I was very fortunate. Super privileged to be able to go. For a full 6 months and just kind of immerse myself.
17:09:43 And the first part of it was definitely challenging. I'm like in a new place which I've been before, because we should go a lot when I was like a kid.
17:09:54 We used to go to my mom to my mom's house, which is in the, but I was always like with my parents and with my family and it was kind of like always all of our activities were just very like family based and it wasn't this like wider.
17:10:09 Immersion into The cultural context, it was not in any way guided by like my own interests.
17:10:20 I had never been there like as of full adult. I think the last time I went I was 18.
17:10:24 And I had like just, I had just finished like my first semester in college and that was the last time I had gone to Mexico.
17:10:30 So I hadn't been back in a while. And yeah, the first part was a little bit of a challenge.
17:10:35 Just kind of like navigating the. Yeah, a little bit of a culture shock like these some of these things are familiar and then like a lot of things are not familiar.
17:10:45 How do I navigate here you know like how do I get from place to place who am I like connecting with like who do I know in these places? Like who do I know in these places?
17:10:58 How do I reach the right people? Who do I know in these places? How do I reach the right people in an appropriate manner as well?
17:11:03 Like that was a big part of it. Because yeah, like when you're from the United States and you just kind of pull up.
17:11:06 To pretty much anywhere, but, it's kinda like, what do you want?
17:11:12 Even though, like, even though I am ancestrally Mexican, that kind of came up a lot initially.
17:11:19 And so having to like navigate that. Was initially a little bit of a challenge, but it became easier and what made it easier was that.
17:11:29 It, it ended up becoming like a very like spiritual journey, which was not an intention in any way, shape or form really.
17:11:37 It was, I was, I was really just doing kind of like identity work and. Trying to rest a little bit from all of the work I was doing.
17:11:47 Like here before I left I was just feeling like really burnt out and I was trying to get just like kind of like some rest of relaxation in a sense.
17:11:55 But then, yeah, just very soon after I arrived, I. Sorry to kind of experience these things that were like steering me in like a more spiritual direction.
17:12:05 And it was it was really crazy like things like seemed to like line up very cosmically like I would end up in a new place.
17:12:12 And it was like almost as if people What we're like, we're like waiting for me.
17:12:18 Sounds crazy, but there was like times where I'd be in a place and somebody would come up and be like, oh, hey, like.
17:12:23 What are you doing here? And like then it would it would lead into a whole like they're in they're working on similar things and it was just it was very very crazy but all the whole time I feel like I received a lot of affirmation that This is good work and this is important work.
17:12:40 And so yeah, I guess it's kind of like initially what it was kind of like and why I ended up going.
17:12:48 To begin with was it was just very very much I need to get away, but it ended up morphing into like so much more.
17:12:57 And I can like there's that I can continue to say things about it I don't know What all questions you have, but.
17:13:02 That's kind of like a synopsis, I guess, of what. What it was at the very beginning at least.
17:13:12 Yeah, I'm sure that will hit a lot of these things that you'll probably expand upon, but I'm curious, so did you kinda just go into Central Mexico and not have places lined up where you're going to go like, seed saving farms or organizations like how did that all plan?
17:13:31 How did you plan it?
17:13:32 Yeah, so honestly, I New, yeah, honestly, I'm not super good at planning because I find that you plan and God laughs.
17:13:43 And so there were like a couple of people who like my network had been like you know, like you should link with this person and you should link with this other person.
17:13:54 And they might be able to help you. But I don't honestly, I found it very difficult.
17:14:00 Like I would reach out to folks and like things just didn't line up. Things just like didn't end up lining up with like their schedules or they would be like initially like, yeah, we can meet up this day or whatever and then it just kind of like didn't work out.
17:14:13 And so that was a little bit of a challenge in feeling like the people that I initially thought I was going to go there to like me and connect with.
17:14:21 It just kinda like kept falling through. And so What was really the starting point was that a friend of mine who's actually on the call today, her name's Adrian.
17:14:34 She was, they were actually down there in Mexico also and introduced me to some artist friends, that they had and I stayed with them in Mexico City.
17:14:43 And from there I ended up like from their network kind of like I ended up meeting a bunch of people who were very eager to like help me.
17:14:52 And so From there, I was able to like, yeah, just meet different folks. And have like kind of like a okay well this seems like a place that's on the way to get to that person and then it was kind of like in those in between places where like I'm saying like cosmically like I would people would would like find me and they would be like.
17:15:12 Oh, like you, what are you, what are you, what are you doing? Like what's your goal like that you're here for whatever and I would like talk about like seeds and be like oh like my friend is super into that and It was just kind of things like that.
17:15:25 So yeah, I didn't I just had a plan to start in central Mexico because really truly this project which is called discarnum is my you says which is a play on the phrase is, is, which means discovering my roots, but my, says means, This is like really I think like a 4 phase project.
17:15:46 Because there's like 3. There's like 3 sections of Mexico, the way that I kind of see it.
17:15:53 There's a central section of Mexico. There's a northern section of Mexico. And there's the southern section of Mexico that, you know, the start starts to become like Central America.
17:16:02 And those are all like very different, and those are all like very different, like climate regions.
17:16:07 And then the fourth part is kind of like the final extension of that, which is like our southwest region.
17:16:13 And So I kind of just started with Central Coast, cause it's the origin point of corn.
17:16:22 Corn originated in the Table Con Valley, which is kind of like where Wahaka and Paula meet, there's a valley that the oldest anthropological evidence points to being where corner originated.
17:16:33 So it was kind of like going back to the origin point there and then it also just coincides that My mom is from me.
17:16:42 Doggo, my family's from me. And I kind of wanted to have that sort of base.
17:16:46 Of my family nearby. And initially I was going to do like a lot more. Like go up further north but I just ended up spending so much time and some of these places that.
17:17:00 I just couldn't fit it into the 6 months. And so I realized that it's gonna be kind of a continuation this journey.
17:17:08 But the first phase was super. Like powerful. And yeah, it was it was interesting seeing how things were slightly different throughout central Mexico, but there's a lot of continuity, culturally speaking, and then just related to corn in particular.
17:17:25 So yeah, I guess hopefully that answers that question.
17:17:28 Yeah, well, definitely did and then some. But yeah, I mean, it seems like.
17:17:38 Yeah, absolutely.
17:17:35 You know, the universe provided like you went there, you went to the origin and then all these things came from it.
17:17:43 Yeah, yeah, the university only provided, and then some, I would say, I was like, as I had mentioned, I kind of need a like rest, like a big part of this trip was out of just sharing necessity of being very, very tired, physically, but also like emotionally like IA lot of my work is centered around working with youth like high schoolers and trying to
17:18:12 I guess provide them with a different perspective around. Agriculture, a lot of, I mean, it's mostly used like from where I live and so a lot of them come from an agricultural background, but there's a disillusion.
17:18:28 Or like an apathy related to it, which I really, really, really to because growing up I didn't care about farming.
17:18:36 And from this farming community, but it wasn't something that I wanted to do. Long term, but then I kind of found my way back to the land and it has been immensely healing for me.
17:18:48 And I, want to share that with you. But I was, I was working with you and I, realize like, I know a lot of the ways in which I still had so much learning and like so much growing.
17:19:01 To do. And a lot of that just being like around, yeah, like around like my identity and around.
17:19:08 Being, I guess, more rooted in some of these like pathways and some of these. I don't know, I guess like the ultimate meaning behind it all and the ways in which it's healing and so It just kind of became something that I had.
17:19:26 Experienced one level of healing really to the land. But there's like so many other layers to it.
17:19:34 And in going to Mexico. A lot of stuff was like shown to me and like revealed to me.
17:19:42 Through all of it that I like needed to experience, but I maybe wasn't. Wasn't at a place before I left in order to like receive those lessons.
17:19:55 And yeah, it was it's been a lot honestly like the reflection of it all and And I guess like facing some of these things like historic trauma, intergenerational trauma.
17:20:05 These things that are related to the land very, very fiercely. And it's been difficult for.
17:20:12 You know, I guess like certain folks certain groups to be able to have. Access to that because there is so much like pain associated with it.
17:20:21 And, so yeah, so like going has been very healing, but healing is very painful sometimes.
17:20:28 So, yeah, it's been, there's been just like a lot of lot of layers to it things that I just definitely didn't expect.
17:20:35 I was like, oh, I'm just gonna go and like, let's just go find some seeds and like connect with some folks and it was like.
17:20:40 Ended up being so much more than that.
17:20:43 And sounds like, these layers are gonna need to be addressed and that you're gonna have to return and continue this work.
17:20:51 Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, that was kind of a big part of it too is.
17:20:56 It was like kind of like beginning to lay the groundwork for some of these relationships. Because there are some really incredible.
17:21:03 Groups that are doing just the most real work. That I've ever seen like in my life like I don't know I think that I've encountered a lot of performance in a lot of the spaces that I found myself and it's very discouraging to feel like.
17:21:22 We're trying to do something and then feeling like we're not actually achieving these goals. And in Mexico there was a lot of groups that I just was like, wow, they're really for real and they're the resistance is so incredible.
17:21:37 Here and some of these people that I talked to like I would like mention this. And they there was one phrase that somebody told me and they were like the, which means like we resist because we don't have any other choice.
17:21:52 And it was just like, it was just so raw, but like so. So powerful. And I feel like that really.
17:22:00 Really filled me up. And so yeah, so part of it was just kind of like wanting to.
17:22:06 Weave this web of like how can we collaborate? How can we, you know, having the privilege of position that we have the United States?
17:22:15 Like, what can we do to help help you all in your, you know, in a mutual way, not like in a you know like I don't know like in a way where it's like like a very legitimate exchange of What do you guys have to offer what we have to offer because we're both kind of in this fight for a better world and for.
17:22:35 For liberation that's land based. And so yeah I feel like I definitely made a lot of those connections and it is it is a matter of like going back.
17:22:44 Back and forth. I'm actually going back at the end of the coming month. So it's like already it's definitely a thing that's gonna be happening for some time.
17:22:56 And, gets cold in the winter time. Are you gonna be going back there?
17:23:01 Yeah, so my grandma, my grandma's almost a hundred years old, God willing.
17:23:05 She lives to be a hundred. Her birthday is in April. And She she lives in and that climate is actually so the elevation there is actually a little bit higher than where where I live currently.
17:23:21 And they have like really strong wins but it's it's not as dry there's more moisture.
17:23:29 But yeah, I think that's mainly where I will be returning to because what was crazy it was like even in this journey which I'm definitely going to continue in like.
17:23:38 You know cataloging these different parts of Mexico. What like some of the things that I was like really looking for.
17:23:45 I ended up finding like just in my mom's community, you know, like there was an incredible elder who lives across the street and he was just sharing all kinds of information with me and he was super kind.
17:23:56 And Yeah, it was it was crazy how it was like, here I was like going all around central Mexico and then some of the things that I was just like really wanted to find.
17:24:07 They were just in my mom's community. And so I wanna I wanna spend more time there even though it was cold, especially in the winter was definitely pretty cold.
17:24:17 But yeah, I definitely will be returning there. The climate I guess is similar in some ways.
17:24:22 So in terms of like see adaptation and things like that it's kind of like a good middle ground for some of the some of like the initial adaptation for some of the like more tropical varieties like there was like several of the more tropical varieties.
17:24:38 Like there was like several varieties that I have from Oakaca, varieties that I have from Oakaca, but it's like, a different climate, right?
17:24:41 Having a kind of like a midway point. Is helpful it's just kind of like as we're going trying to develop some of this infrastructure and these different things, but I think it's important to be doing and doing the best that we can and not getting stuck in like the.
17:24:57 Paralysis by analysis and like the plan has to be perfect, you know, it's just Let's get out there and let's do something.
17:25:04 So. Yeah.
17:25:05 Yeah, I hear that. I hear that. Marissa, I saw that your hand was raised.
17:25:10 Did you want to offer something? Ask a question.
17:25:16 Yeah, I was just,
17:25:18 Maybe not.
17:25:20 Oh, can you guys hear me? Can you hear me?
17:25:23 Hi, Ken.
17:25:24 Okay, I don't know what just happened, but something just flickered on my screen.
17:25:30 Yeah, I was just really, just loving hearing you talk about like, you know, these connections and I mean, just like ultimately like we can't resist alone, right?
17:25:41 And so like building these connections and making these relationships essentially, you know, seem to be like.
17:25:53 At the heart of the journey that you made, you know, and like. A lot of that like healing work that comes from The act of resisting and reclaiming our ancestry and, you know, our remembering, you know, our remembrance.
17:26:11 All of that essentially has to have connection at the heart of it. It's just, it's just really beautiful just to hear like how you talk about it.
17:26:21 And I can tell that. You know, just something really powerful. Happened within all of those like little individual experiences.
17:26:30 That really kind of. You know. Made things like click, you know, in like a really deep way.
17:26:39 About you know just the power that saving seeds really does you know at the heart of community. You know, in, in the building of community.
17:26:50 And so it's really beautiful to hear of these connections made across these. You know, fictional borders because like ultimately, like you said, you know, there We're all just one giant like landmass, you know, and like That's exactly what connects us, you know, at the heart of it is corn, especially for a lot of us that call that are corn people you know that come from who were, you
17:27:16 know, given the job as caretakers of the corn. You know, we're all united in that job as caretakers of the court, you know, we're all united in within that at the heart.
17:27:22 I just, I just wanted to say how beautiful that has been to hear you talk about that because I think a lot of that that talking about like the connections, the reciprocity and like all of that like.
17:27:36 When I looked at like the pictures that you took and like when I read your report like you know, it's really hard to kind of like capture some of these like Like really deep.
17:27:50 Parts of it like that reciprocity like that connection and things like that. And so like I just It is beautiful to hear you.
17:27:59 Add a little bit to like all of that and I'm just really excited for what we're doing right now.
17:28:05 Oh, thank you so much, Melissa. I that maybe kinda like tear up a little bit.
17:28:10 Some of the things that you're saying are Yeah, just so. Central. So what all of this has been.
17:28:18 And like 2 of those things that I kind of wanted to expand on if I had based off what you said was.
17:28:24 One was kind of the concept of the. This you know the connection we have with being and sexually connected to Turtle Island and the way that we are people of the corn.
17:28:38 Yeah, that's something that like ended up becoming very clear to me because I think growing up I was just very, Like I just understood that like you know my mom was from Mexico and like Max cause this other country and there's been you know this very complicated relationship between the United States and Mexico and all of the rest of Latin America.
17:29:03 And I kind of always in my mind conceptualize myself as like Mexican-american. And then like having gone to Mexico and then like feeling.
17:29:13 Like more exposed to kind of their political situation. And realizing that That same sort of like nationalism that existed and it's like wait but what's beneath what's beneath the veneer of like Mexico, you know, what's under under this and kind of being able to trace That back to yeah, like the original people.
17:29:36 That originated in Mexico have been have been to Mexico are in Mexico and kind of the differences in the dynamics between indigenous folks.
17:29:46 In the United States and the nuns in Mexico and yeah like the arbitrariness of of the border and the politics and the governments and all of these different things, how it adds all of these layers, but then at the end of the day, it's like.
17:29:59 This is what was here. It was people who were very closely tied to the land. Who had extreme reverence?
17:30:07 For corn, for companion planting, for collective communities, all of these different things. And that is a very strong relationship.
17:30:19 That exists throughout this whole region, you know, Southwest all the way down. And continuing down all in this part of the world, and central to that, like you're saying is, is corn.
17:30:30 And so that kind of leads into the second point I was gonna make, which when you were talking about.
17:30:35 Kind of like how How this connection. Is reflective of the different kind of communities that we're interacting with and everything that they all of us have to offer each other and we can't use this alone and all of those things and it made me think about how like one of my favorite things that I learned from like, I guess, a genetic point of view, a scientific point of view, if you will, was
17:31:05 how land race corn. Is the biodiversity that exists in it. Like I understood that it was biodiversity.
17:31:14 But I didn't realize like the extent. Of which it was biodiversity because I'm used to seeing.
17:31:20 You know, like in the United States, there's just like sweet corn, you just go by sweet corn in the summer at the store and it's just all exactly the same.
17:31:27 And I didn't realize the differences between. Land race corn like you're gonna have some tall stocks you're gonna have some short ones you're gonna have broad leaf skinny leaves all of just like the the immense difference and in growing my own like this year was the first year that I grew.
17:31:45 Actually, it's second year, LAND, RACE corn, but this is the first year that had like a significant harvest enough to see a lot of these differences.
17:31:53 And it's just been very powerful how each plant is different. Each cob is different. And then on an even further level, every plant is different, each cob is different.
17:32:02 And then on an even further level, every single Every single kernel is biologically different as well. This is like the funniest fact of all of it was how every little.
17:32:13 Silk, the little hairs that come out of the corn attached to a single kernel. You and they're basically available to be pollinated by any single pollen.
17:32:26 And because in there because there's so much genetic variability in a land race population the The distinction between every kernel.
17:32:37 Is, is just that it's distinct. And it's reflective of, it's very reflective of us as individuals and every cob is like reflective of like different populations in different communities.
17:32:49 And it was just like, oh my gosh, thinking about that just blew my mind. I was like, wait, this is crazy.
17:32:54 Like this is a microcosm of like what we're experiencing on a much larger scale.
17:33:00 And a book recommendation for those of you who are readers, really good book called monocultures of the mind.
17:33:08 Which is by Vandana Shiva who's like a big seat activist. I'm sure several of you are familiar.
17:33:16 But she talks a lot about that and how kind of this attack we're seeing on seeds and see diversity, how it relates to what we're seeing, as individuals and trying to all be put into little boxes.
17:33:29 And kind of being the same and it takes away from that diversity that we each have all of the unique gifts that we have all of the the differences that we bring, which then, yeah, creates culture and, adds a texture.
17:33:45 To our day-to-day lives. And that's very much under attack. And I think it's leads to a lot of the sad things that we're seeing in the world.
17:33:56 And it's, it's just wild how how you can kind of bring that all back to.
17:34:00 To corn just as like an example. Of the opposite viewpoint. Just like very simple and so Anyway, that was something based off of what versus said.
17:34:14 I realized maybe it was tangential, but.
17:34:15 I love that comparison of like the cosmos of the corn like really being representative of like what we experience on this planet.
17:34:27 And, I do agree with you like. Celebrate our differences yet like. People are using it as a divisive.
17:34:33 Element in these days, but we just need to be more like the corn. Yeah, I want to.
17:34:35 Right, right. Sure Okay.
17:34:42 Share some of your photos, Val. Would you mind if I, if I did that as we move along in this in this conversation.
17:34:50 Yeah, no, I.
17:34:51 Okay, on spotlight myself, but as I do this. Oops. Sorry, one moment.
17:35:03 As I do this, tell me. You know, were you going to all, I have a list right here.
17:35:12 Is that right?
17:35:11 You went to Oakaka, Vera Cruz, Flux call up, Pueba, Hidalgo in Mexico City and were you just kind of like following the corn?
17:35:19 In that as you were moving around.
17:35:23 Yeah, honestly, it was like, like I said, like I had this plan.
17:35:27 I was like, I'm gonna start here and I'm gonna go here and I'm gonna end up over here and it just didn't really turn out that way.
17:35:33 Like IA significant amount of time in Mexico City, like. Going to a lot of the museums and doing a lot of like research related to corn.
17:35:43 And then like, yeah, like I said, I would make a connection that would be like, oh, well, my, you know, my, a friend of mine, they, they have a farm and they do ancestral, farming and land stewardship in Veracruz and let me put you in touch and like you can probably go stay with them.
17:36:00 And it was like, okay, yeah, totally, let's do it. And so. Yeah, I was just kind of going where.
17:36:06 Going to where the corn and like the connections were taking me. And yeah, it was really, really incredible.
17:36:14 The corn led you or the people of the corn, let you.
17:36:16 Yeah, yeah, it was it was crazy. Like I'm saying it was just, I did kinda have like a general like well let me start at the coast and like work my way up but yeah along the way there ended up being like detours and like I was gonna go here first but then it's like actually go here because there's gonna be a seed fair and like all these different things so Yeah, it was it was
17:36:39 So this is the first picture, that you shared with me. And this is that volcano popocat, is that right?
17:36:50 Book of technical. Yeah.
17:36:50 That's constantly Yeah, it's constantly fuming, right?
17:36:54 Yeah, yeah, it's a active volcano. It's I think it's the tallest mountain in all of Mexico.
17:37:01 I'm pretty sure. That one in Lights at Seawater, which is the one that's across from it.
17:37:06 They're like the 2 tallest. Peaks in in Mexico and they're both volcanoes but late at sea well is like dormant and she somewhere else I'm not sure she like wasn't snow I didn't there was no snow when I went I was already there like in March I think.
17:37:23 And there was there was no under any snow but Mountains like just south of Mexico City. And I think Yeah, there's definitely a lot to say about like the geography there and the proximity it had to.
17:37:41 I guess the Machika Civilization, the Michigan being the Aztec, the academically known as the ASTEC.
17:37:48 Which was basically where Mexico City was. That they're like they're their community was based like right there.
17:37:59 And there's still a lot of ancestors relatives rather. Who are of a similar like cosmology.
17:38:05 That's still live all around there. So yeah, they're just very beautiful mountains and hopefully get to hike the other one at some point.
17:38:16 So yeah, they're just very beautiful mountains and hopefully get to hike the other one at some point.
17:38:17 I was not like equipped. You have to go with like a guide and it's like kind of steep and stuff but it would be cool to hike it at some point.
17:38:22 Oh yeah, well I was, you know, when I saw these images, I was thinking, you know, oftentimes around volcanic areas, the soil is so fertile.
17:38:33 And then, You know, this isn't Hidalgo, it's not in Hidalgo, but it's very close to, which is an agricultural area of Mexico.
17:38:42 And I was wondering if you came across any like corn stories, intersecting with the myths of these 2 volcanoes, the
17:38:52 In terms of there being like Intersection with the myths in particular of the story here, I would say no, but like all of Mexico is I mean, has been for a very long time agricultureally based and central Mexico has always been like very, very fertile.
17:39:11 That's why the one of the largest civilizations was based there. And I didn't I didn't hear anything partick in particular, but I did as I was going up, the guy that was taking me up to the mountains, he was telling me about, I really kind of told him I was up to and stuff.
17:39:26 And he told me that, oh, there's like people and you and I did meet some folks there who they were.
17:39:32 They were farming like they were they were starting to break their ground and like put their seeds in and stuff like that.
17:39:39 And they talked about how, The redcorn had disappeared already from like the area.
17:39:47 And they were mostly stewarding blue and white and yellow corn which was like another really fascinating thing that I learned.
17:39:58 Was just related to have the of the 4 colors. Some of them that it was hard, some of them were just harder to find.
17:40:04 And, yeah, they talked about how specifically in that area the, the agriculture had just become.
17:40:11 And I mean, I think everywhere it's become very, very commercial. And they for sure had lost their red variety.
17:40:19 And that's what the guy that was taking me up was telling me about because I guess his family like and sexually farmed but he was no longer farming.
17:40:27 So it's kind of like the repetition of a lot of these things that are happening. Just kind of like the repetition of a lot of these things that are happening everywhere where it's kind of like the repetition of a lot of these things that are happening everywhere where it's like and especially you farm but then it's at a certain of a lot of these things that are happening everywhere where it's like, and
17:40:36 sexually you farm, but then at a certain point it's just like no longer economically feasible.
17:40:38 So that was kind of like the only thing really to to corn. Around the pyramids, you know the pyramids, the volcanoes that, that kind of came up, but nothing really related to the, to the story.
17:40:50 There is a story, there is a myth related to corn though from the NAWA tradition, which is basically that which is one of the He's a feather serpent.
17:41:05 He's one of the gods in the cosmology. Well, actually, what gifted corn to humanity.
17:41:14 And that's kind of what that's why he was one of the more powerful gods and one of the kinder gods to.
17:41:22 To humanity. And it was that was the main reason is that he was he was why yeah, I guess the answers had received corn to begin with.
17:41:32 So that's I guess like the only myth I would have related to corn.
17:41:36 Yeah, I was just curious. I couldn't find anything when I was researching, but, what I do see is that you found some red corn.
17:41:46 Yeah, so that's actually, Super, super far from where the volcanoes are.
17:41:54 That's in still 10 in Mexico City, because Mexico City is a state, but it's in the southern most part that is more rural.
17:42:01 And, that was with a really dope group called, they're, a really, really inspiring group of women who are doing land-based projects and returning to, yeah, taking care of the like land race.
17:42:18 Varieties of corn and making Yeah, and social foods for them to eat so that they can continue being healthy and rooted in like this way of living and eating.
17:42:33 And I was so fortunate to be able to go help them plant. And yeah, they were growing a blue corn and a red corn.
17:42:39 So that's the bad corn there.
17:42:42 Did you, know you found all these seeds? Did you get opportunities to eat them? Like eat the corn as well or something made from them.
17:42:49 Yeah, definitely. So there for sure, look, isn't that like that day they started and everybody who was there they were like okay like we have some like a low breakfast for you guys and everybody who was there, they were like, okay, like we have some like a low breakfast for you guys and it was like they just had tortillas like a bunch of bluecorn tortillas.
17:43:04 So yes, and then yeah, when I was staying with this is the corn from actually that one's from OHaka but when I was staying in Barak Ruse.
17:43:13 Yeah, I got to eat a lot of, there was corn being used to make tortillas there.
17:43:20 That's like land race corn in my this is that this is my one of my ideas my one of my aunts teaching how to make.
17:43:25 Oh, nice.
17:43:28 How to make, which is like before you make a tortilla, but Masa can use for anything, you know, tamales, black coyos, everything basically.
17:43:38 And she was showing me how to do it and that's corn. That's a Lhorn from the community that my mom is from.
17:43:46 So yeah, I definitely got to eat a lot of a lot of corn, a lot of land raised corn and a lot of just like different things.
17:43:54 That I had never tried before. I'll send better crews we like these really yummy bugs we went hunting for these little bugs.
17:44:04 These and the friend I was staying with, she like made them into this amazing salsa and yeah they're just like food wise yeah the food in Mexico is completely unbeatable like is just really really incredible everything that that there is to eat.
17:44:20 So I was super fortunate to get to try. All this and you just can't compare like a fresh bluecorn tortilla to like anything else just
17:44:28 Oh yeah. No, it's amazing. Yeah, and I just need to add, when I went and visited they what they were doing is they were taking the, and then when they were harvesting it, there were all these little worms.
17:44:47 Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
17:44:47 I forgot. Yeah, and then and in Hidalgo they make a specific salsa. Incorporating those.
17:44:55 Do you have any more info on that?
17:44:57 Yeah, you know, I actually think it's a try those, but yeah, I think there's another word for it.
17:45:04 But it was, it was like not in seedson when I was spending time with my family. It was it was like not in seedson when I was spending time with my family.
17:45:10 There's like a certain part of the year. And maybe, I don't know, but actually I actually haven't tried that one.
17:45:16 But yeah, eating like little, there's different like bugs. Also in Mohaka, there's a lot of like you're different like bugs.
17:45:21 Also in Mohaka there's a lot of like you eat the. They're like little grasshoppers and my my aunts would make those 2 and I love those eating like little fried grasshoppers.
17:45:29 I think there's some somewhere there. Oh, that was just a very fun grasshopper.
17:45:33 It's beautiful.
17:45:34 That was. That was that was farther north. Yeah, it's just crazy. I think you're not supposed to eat the super colorful ones.
17:45:43 But yeah, like that there's a lot of bugs you can eat, which is again, like just like a testament to the way that a lot of these cultures are just super aware of what is available like in the landscape like bugs are an amazing source of protein.
17:45:57 Oh yeah.
17:45:59 Yeah, and they're very, delicious. Like, I feel like I feel maybe folks would be turned off by the idea of eating bugs probably that makes sense.
17:46:10 But, yeah, I don't, I can tell you try it's very, very good and like super nutritious.
17:46:15 Oh yeah, you know that's probably the case with a lot of, Americans being unfamiliar, but yeah, I mean all over the world people are.
17:46:24 Eating those insects because they're full of a lot of good nutrients and like primary producers.
17:46:40 Oh, nice.
17:46:30 Yeah. That was, these were some of the seeds that I planted. So I planted like a small plot, where my grandma lives just in like her little, there's just a very small little property there.
17:46:44 And. Most of it, I don't know, Mexico seems to have a obsession with cement.
17:46:51 There's like concrete everywhere. And most houses the way that they kind of build them is they just like They put a layer of cement and then they build on top of it.
17:47:01 And so that's pretty much the story, and my grandma's house, but there was like one section that's still soil.
17:47:09 And so I was like, we have to plant something here. So, so yeah, I planted, some bean.
17:47:14 These are beans that were that when they sprouted and some corn. And some of it made it a lot of it didn't, but it was interesting.
17:47:23 I was gone, I like left and I just kind of like. Told my, and my mom was still was down there at the time and to take care of it and they were all taking care of it which is really fun.
17:47:35 Everyone was kind of invested and people come visit my grandma and they would be like Oh, you've got something growing here.
17:47:39 Just become like interested like what's going on and it was it was fun. It was just very cool.
17:47:43 Is I think a very unifying experience. Because yeah, just like so much of the agriculture tradition has been lost over the years in Mexico and so I'm I'm very, inspired by the people that I've met who are committed to continuing.
17:48:00 That way of life. Because they understand like the importance of it. Yeah.
17:48:05 What a nice, memory and activity that you could do with your family.
17:48:09 Yeah, it was it was very, very nice, very healing. This corn is one of my favorites that I found.
17:48:16 In English is called Podcorn, but in Spanish it's, and it's actually like not it's not a variety but it's It's actually like a mutation that occurs sometimes.
17:48:31 And they've been able to like preserve the mutation like the genetic which what you can see there is that essentially.
17:48:41 Every little kernel has like a little enclosure around it. And this is like a very, very rare variety.
17:48:50 It's like almost extinct. And yeah, it was mostly preserved. So the community that I found is an indigenous community in Flux, Galla, at Las Vegas.
17:49:00 And Yeah, it was just, it was very Very beautiful the way that this has been preserved.
17:49:09 And I really liked it because it's very different. Yeah.
17:49:10 It is very special. What would be the mutation?
17:49:19 Oh, this. Oh.
17:49:15 The mutation is the little covering over the over the. Yeah, there's like, and that, is that whole is like, would me, was garlic.
17:49:27 It looks like garlic. Yeah.
17:49:27 So basically like. Yeah, that's the whole point. The whole idea is that it's, yeah, each one has like this little covering over it, which doesn't make it like super practical, I guess, in terms of like.
17:49:37 Eating it, but there are some for some reason it's been like. It's continue to be, like stewarded because it's like there's something interesting about it.
17:49:46 I guess. And yeah, I was very fortunate to be able to. To meet some farmers who who steward this variety of corn.
17:49:54 Maybe the covering is for pest resistance. Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead, Marissa.
17:49:58 Oh, no, it's okay. I was I was gonna ask that like, is there something like in that particular environment that Like.
17:50:10 Gives the covering purpose or you just said that they steward it because it's something like really interesting like you know can you talk about more about like why they Steward this variety.
17:50:21 Yeah, so from my understanding, there's like a spiritual connotation to it. I, yeah, I think, I think that's, that's mainly.
17:50:35 Got it.
17:50:32 What it is. There, yeah, I think it's mostly that like it's ends up being used like in ceremonial purposes.
17:50:44 Very cool. There's loads of great photos here.
17:50:50 I love how you documented. Everything pretty precisely and got all the sizes. Laid out.
17:50:55 Oh, thank you. Yeah, it was super fun. I, yeah, like I said, I learned a lot and I was just super, super fortunate.
17:51:07 This one's really fine, Joe Sinclair is the, is kind of like the, and this is also super rare and like almost, extinct as well.
17:51:18 Oops. Sorry.
17:51:17 Just actually like the
17:51:22 Like wild relative, the wild relative to corn. So you can kind of see, these on the left here you can kind of see.
17:51:32 How it's like kernels, but it there's very few of them together. And this is actually, it's like very hard.
17:51:42 You can make a flower out of this, I believe, but it's not. It's not very good.
17:51:48 But it's, it's pretty much regarded that this was kind of like this is the oldest living precursor to corn like that still exists.
17:51:58 And basically from this and crossings with another another like wild grass we have the corn that we see today so kind of this is like the mother Corn is regarded as like one of the mother grains and so this is like the mother of the mother grain because it's like a variety before.
17:52:19 Before we got corn yeah to see that one's like very special as well.
17:52:25 Did you find this?
17:52:28 So there's iPhone, I met some people who they. They like steward it because they make jewelry out of it.
17:52:37 And so, and that was, yeah, so I. I was fortunate enough to meet some folks who Oh yeah, they they had they had a significant amount and they've like continued to grow it even though like it has gotten very, very rare.
17:52:51 It's just so cool to see this and. To think about like somebody seeing this back in the day in the potential seeing the potential of what will become it's What a beautiful, beautiful grass grain, I guess.
17:53:09 Yeah, it's like I think it's considered a what I think it's considered a wild grass.
17:53:15 That yeah, just basically has these like unique seeds. On them. And I can't remember exactly, I believe it's in my report, but I'm not a sure where there's.
17:53:27 It talks about the other one that it's crossed with and so the one that it was crossed with.
17:53:32 That provided kind of the more the more like edible component of it where this provided kind of more of like the structure.
17:53:42 So it was like through those 2 crosses of those grasses. That yeah, we from there.
17:53:49 I mean, this is like 10,000 years ago. That we're able to see. A more modern variety of corn.
17:53:55 Like, yeah, this is like one of the, yeah, this is like the oldest. Originating.
17:54:01 Components of it. Yeah.
17:54:02 Very special. Gosh, this porn too beautiful.
17:54:08 Oh, this is, and these are like little baby cobs, that were just kinda more for like decorative, but, the, that we're just kind of more for like decorative, but, the, cause the full grown corn is like a full cob.
17:54:23 And I just happened to like have some of these smaller ones that like I brought these back for like folks.
17:54:26 As like my little gifts and suite years for them, but is like, it's like a, it's very popular in central Mexico and it's really, really yummy.
17:54:41 It's like it ends up being, I think there's like a picture somewhere else that shows like this, type of corn when it's like been boiled.
17:54:49 And like you see the kernel is like huge, it's like enormous. Yeah, and, it's very, very salty, very savory, like a hardy.
17:55:00 It's like just all these corns are very different from like the sweet corn that I feel like I was mostly raised with.
17:55:07 Because my family it's a very harsh climate here for corn so my family didn't grow any corn.
17:55:15 Not really. I can think I feel like I remember like one time when my dad grew it, but it was like.
17:55:21 It didn't do very well. And definitely not like, the flowercorns.
17:55:28 You find like some sleek horns here and there but. Not like a corn for. For I guess like longer.
17:55:34 Longer use like through the winter. So yeah, so like seeing all these different. And being able to eat them in a more fresher state when they're, Yeah, like they're just very different from sweetcorn.
17:55:50 And you just mentioned, you know, you, farmed in your in Colorado and your dad's property, but was there farming on your maternal side as well in the Hidalgo area?
17:56:02 With your family specifically.
17:56:03 Yes, so, yeah, I guess it's like a little bit of a complicated history.
17:56:09 My from what I'm I'm still learning a lot about that side of my family because.
17:56:16 Yeah, just a little bit harder to find information. But, Definitely. Many of my ancestors were they were subject to like the peonage system of aceanda owners, which is a complicated and painful history, but they were essentially like.
17:56:35 They were they were like indentured servants they were pretty close to being slaves and they they were the ones that kept that stewarded lands for a canda owners which a Candas are essentially plantations.
17:56:49 So there's definitely like a long history. Of that on my mom's side of the family.
17:56:58 And in a less I guess less traumatic sort of sense They've always lived in a very land based way and some of my some of my aunts still kind of continue with that.
17:57:10 And that's like going to the mountain and harvesting foods. Harvesting different plants, knowing the different mushrooms and all these different things collecting wood and all of this stuff, to be able to bring it.
17:57:24 Bring it down and, you know, be able to survive from that. So definitely on like much smaller subsistence scale like For sure, always, but like commercially on a larger scale, like no, and not just as I guess, you know.
17:57:42 Land situations. And that kind of complicated history there. But, as for that knowledge being well and alive within my family, like, absolutely.
17:57:54 And I think that's just the case with a lot of people from that area. Just, this has been ingrained in them for thousands of years, you know, and it's not just something that you forget after generation or 2, unless you're in a, I guess.
17:58:07 No, definitely not. Definitely not. Yeah. And even if like, even if it's interesting how it's like, even if you're not.
17:58:15 Fully aware of the history or. Somewhat disconnected to it because a lot of it, as I mentioned, is like traumatic.
17:58:24 It just like this within you like, like growing up, my mom always had house plants like and her house plants are always so strong and like very vibrant.
17:58:34 And she just always has had like that kind of. Ability to to grow whatever in like in little pots and things like that and when I was younger I didn't I guess I didn't like really like paid too much attention to it or like observe it.
17:58:49 But now that I'm older, I realize that most people have really poor success with their house plants.
17:58:56 And for my mom, they were just kind of like all her little plant friends and she just has always had a really really strong like green thumb and it's definitely attributed to kind of like Yeah, that ancestry of being land based people and being connected.
17:59:09 To these ways of life.
17:59:12 I hear that same story with my mom. She's from the Philippines and gosh, I mean, I could only keep succulents alive for a while.
17:59:19 And then it's nothing for her, but I get all her transplants now.
17:59:25 No, that's super powerful. But yeah, I definitely feel that. Yeah, it's like it's like within its inherent it's in the DNA.
17:59:34 And that's yeah, I think that's like what's so powerful about learning about all these things is being able to kind of like tap into that like you might not even realize like oh that's like within you and I think that that realization can bring you to a very different outlook on yourself.
17:59:53 Which is just incredibly powerful.
17:59:56 Well, I know that we're at the top of the hour. There's just a couple other images I'd love for you to expand on like this beautiful corn here.
18:00:04 Tell us about it. What did you, did you get a chance to taste it?
18:00:08 Oh, this one was, I'm trying to think which one this one was. I actually didn't get to taste this one.
18:00:21 It might be, I think it might be. When I recall your report.
18:00:17 I feel like this is a I think it was Miles Nagrito. And that one, I'm actually not, actually I don't think that one is.
18:00:34 I think that's a. That's one of the, I believe, actually. Let's see what we have on that one.
18:00:42 Yeah, it's it's a lot of scoring because that's what I thought. Yeah.
18:00:48 Yeah, honestly, that one I don't know too much about, is definitely like the darkest one that I found.
18:00:56 And I don't I don't know specifically why. Why it ends up being so melanated.
18:01:06 But it's definitely like a very, a very unique one, of course. But I didn't get to try it or anything.
18:01:18 That one's the negative though there. That one, yeah, that's a different one. And now when I, that when I did get to try.
18:01:26 And all of them are just kind of like, yeah, the differences are.
18:01:32 I guess to like capture the differences in like taste and such but for sure like nutritionally. They all are very varied.
18:01:43 And the different colors. Provide you. Kind of like different like, and, I don't know how you see it, like I can only ever read it.
18:01:54 But it's kind of like the The color component, the whatever it is that gives them color.
18:02:00 Is a specialized nutrient that is hard to find in other foods. So it's like very powerful to be able to eat that.
18:02:10 In this way and that's why it's super sad that the red is like being lost because it wasn't like commercially viable.
18:02:17 Yeah, and those signs, Risa put it in the chat and the science. Yeah, cause I know like the red the red and those Anthosignings, are very, very powerful.
18:02:30 But because red, like you don't see, I don't, I have red tortillas is very hard to find.
18:02:37 And I guess like they just like the commercial viability, which is apparently important in cities world.
18:02:43 Is just not conducive to maintaining those corn varieties long term.
18:02:54 I see that I'll put something the darker more purple, the better protection against cancer other illnesses, correct?
18:03:00 I can't like speak to exactly like with regard to like cancer and things like that. I just know, I just know for sure there there's nutrients that is really hard to find in other places.
18:03:10 So being able to to eat those in your diet is important.
18:03:19 This is like, this is probably one of my favorite, pictures. And that was just kind of like a combination of.
18:03:27 A lot of the varieties. That I ended up, connecting with. Just kind of all in one picture and being able to see how they're different, they're similar, there's ones that pop out at you.
18:03:43 And this one. Yeah, I don't know. I seems to be a popular one of the ones that I took, but.
18:03:52 Yeah, I really like it. It's just kind of nice to see it all put together.
18:03:57 Oh yeah, definitely. Marissa, did you have your hand raised?
18:04:01 Yeah, I just wanted to ask about a question so like I know like normally like when we think about like corn is like a food crop, we think that the colors have a lot to do with like you know their nutrient qualities and things like that but A lot of like the growing of these cores like Val had noted is very much tied with ceremony.
18:04:27 And, you know, they're used within like the cosmology of the people who steward them and at least you know for I'm hoping and so at least for, you know, my people, a lot of like the color, certain colors like the red, you know, our first certain ceremonies and things like that.
18:04:45 And so I think that's something that's like. Really beautiful and probably something you most definitely came across.
18:04:51 You know, we like, you know, as people who've grown up here in the. You know, so-called United States, we would think that it is for their certain, nutrient benefit, but it's really for their for their spiritual capacity is you know carriers of certain energies and things like that.
18:05:11 And so I think those, you know, something you've touched on, something that's really beautiful is that like.
18:05:17 You know, it's not even about what we get from them internally, but what we get from them and what you know.
18:05:24 You know, that relationship again, that connection, that reciprocity between the stewards and the crop.
18:05:33 Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for saying that, Yeah, there was, there was a very clear, thing that came out to me as I was saying how there was kind of the 4 different colors of corn.
18:05:48 And you're totally right in that they're used for different, they've been used for, different ceremonial spiritual purposes.
18:05:57 And it's sad that certain ones have have been lost in some of these communities. As they become more disconnected from those traditional ways.
18:06:11 And yeah, you're right. We don't know the implications of kind of losing, and, yeah, you're right, we don't know the implications of kind of losing, and yeah, you're right.
18:06:21 We don't know the implications of kind of losing, losing that access, to, so all the more reason, you know, to continue to to preserve these.
18:06:26 As best as we can but but also very important to have them preserved in context and in the communities, with which they've originated in because separating from that them from that is is a continued disconnect and if there's one big thing that I learned throughout this whole journey was the way that disconnection is trauma.
18:06:55 And so try like separating them further because of. The desire the need to get certain nutrients or certain things from them away from those those deeper meanings is like the perpetuation of such a cycle right it would be to like capture them and just like want them for certain things which is like anti antithetical to like the whole idea of it.
18:07:26 Which is the preservation, not just of seeds, but of. Of these communities and of these ways of.
18:07:33 Of being because they're important and have a lot to to explain about the world. That we're just not following, in today's like day and age and Hegeemy in general.
18:07:48 Is just very removed from those truths. So. Thank you, Marisa. There's a question here.
18:07:57 How do you feel about the appropriateness to grow? Other culture, seeds, and my east. Yeah, I I think it depends on like what your reasons are for growing them.
18:08:14 If you're growing them because you have, obviously like an ancestral connection to them, Obviously not a problem, but, if you're like from an outside culture, I think you just have to be careful about.
18:08:31 And I don't I don't wanna like speak for the communities that you know that each of them will have different perspectives but I guess my own personal perspective.
18:08:40 On like growing things is like ultimately what are you growing it for like are you growing it for your own personal use.
18:08:49 In that case, I don't think there's a problem if you're going it for your own personal use.
18:08:53 That's great. Like continue to grow those seeds, if you're going it for your own personal use. That's great.
18:09:00 Like continue to grow those seeds, continue to adopt them to like your environment, and do it in a way that's informed and in connection of like where you receive them, who they belong to initially.
18:09:08 That's very crucial, but if you start to do it in a way that it's like, Oh, I'm growing this for some commercial purpose and I'm growing this to like make tortillas that are like blue tortillas to then like sell them or to market them in some way.
18:09:24 Basically anytime, any, point in time where it starts to become an economic thing or you start to.
18:09:33 I guess just like the compensated in some financial way about maybe perhaps like Your knowledge surrounding it or.
18:09:43 Just like your efforts around it. I think that's when it becomes problematic. Yeah, so I guess that would be my, synthesized thought there.
18:09:58 And we're assessing here a lot of cultures have lost certain seeds due to certain traumas and tragedies, having able to reclaim certain varieties due to trade founded in reciprocal trust.
18:10:06 Yeah, so that's super true. Yeah, a lot of seeds have been lost. So I mean,
18:10:12 A lot of the original attacks on. And indigenous relatives had was just like cutting them off from their food supply and making them.
18:10:22 Like, indebted to the, to the government for like rations, all these horrible, horrible things.
18:10:29 And so yeah, a lot of varieties have been lost. And so there's people outside of it who have been like keeping those seeds.
18:10:37 It's great to be able to bring them to bring them back. But, yeah, I was always saying just anytime, anytime there's any kind of economical, anything related to it, any kind of making of money, that's I think when you really.
18:10:51 End up being any kind of yeah or just speaking on it as if there's like I guess like I'm knowledge.
18:11:00 That you've been able to. To gather because of your positionality. It just becomes very, very tricky because a lot of those communities are not great economic standing.
18:11:14 And they're the ones that have been keeping this information for so long and they're the ones that have been keeping this information for so long and it's just kind of unfair.
18:11:21 Yeah, thank you very much for that. I think that you said that so. Distinctly and beautifully.
18:11:23 Yeah, no, I totally agree with what you're saying.
18:11:28 Cool, thank you. I guess there's a follow. This is thanks for the answer.
18:11:32 Then how do we grow anything commercially? Like if we live in this area but don't have roots here.
18:11:37 Yeah, I guess like that's a good question. I think there's a difference between, things that are, as Mercer was talking about things that are so particularly related to.
18:11:51 Ceremony and like spiritual purposes. As opposed to and I guess I think also to like the packaging of them too you know like if you're if you're growing corn and you're marketing it in a way that is like This corn is like hopy corn and, you know, and then your logo is very like.
18:12:14 You know, native influence or whatever and you're not a native person, you're not an indigenous person like that is just like cut and dry appropriation.
18:12:25 When you say like, how do we grow anything commercially? Like if you live in an area but you don't have roots here.
18:12:33 I mean I think you can grow. Being I don't know I guess I'm I'm at a place where like I don't believe that we should be growing these things to package them and to sell them to people who can afford them.
18:12:44 I'm like beyond thinking that there's a way I thought for a long time maybe there was a way to do that.
18:12:49 But my personal philosophy is that. If we're trying to preserve these things, we should be doing it in a in a communal way where like we're doing it in a in a communal way where like we're growing it to exchange and continue to build on this reciprocity.
18:13:04 And an understanding of that because if you're trying to grow these things in a niche way and market them a certain way.
18:13:13 Ultimately, you're only going to be able to sell them to people who can afford them.
18:13:15 And there's nothing that is equitable about that. Yeah, I don't know Marissa might jump in there and Add something to that.
18:13:24 It's, it's a complicated and I could probably, there's like a lot more to it, but.
18:13:29 I think it just comes back down to like what is it that you're growing? What is the relationship to certain groups?
18:13:37 In the way that you're able to like market it. Because if you're just growing like sweet horn like Okay, that's.
18:13:46 It's very different than ancestral land race, seed stewarded. Corn that's been saved from generation to generation and that even some indigenous communities like they They're struggling to even be able to grow it for themselves.
18:14:03 So it becomes very, very complex. I don't know if anybody.
18:14:06 Well, it so it is really confident and you know
18:14:07 Yeah, I, I can jump in.
18:14:12 Oh, I'm sorry. Who is gonna say something? Go ahead.
18:14:14 If you wanted to respond, that's fine, totally.
18:14:17 Well, you know, just like as you know, storing the seed exchange and people selling seeds there that so and so gave them and so and so gave them and I've been given Taus Bluecorn and I don't personally have any interest in like selling stuff but I'm just like, oh, I mean, I've gotten, you know, people have all these things.
18:14:38 I'm really confused. About what's appropriate and what's not. And I want to do the right things and be encouraging the right things.
18:14:49 But it's, You know, I'm not sure where the line is because we do need some one way and like a lot of the people, you know.
18:14:58 Tow in this area have bluecorn. So I just don't know where the, you know, Sorry, just be pushed along.
18:15:06 I think I mean for me I think the line is very much related to economy.
18:15:13 Like you're saying like with people who come to the seed exchange and like are selling their seeds.
18:15:18 People come to this game change like are selling
18:15:21 Yeah, I, I guess the way that I see it is like if you have been gifted, Bluetooth bluecorn and you just have like a lot of it and you're like Oh, I guess I could make some extra money off of this and like sell it.
18:15:35 Yeah, it's an inequity to me because that it wasn't, wasn't sold to you.
18:15:42 And if you know exactly where it comes from and those that community that's been stewing it.
18:15:45 So kind of like gave it to you. The appropriate thing to do would be to either continue to gift it or it would be to point that person like if they wanted to buy a lot of it, it'd be like, okay, you can buy it from the person that gave it to me and they're the people who have been.
18:16:04 You know, they're the people who should rightly be compensated. Economically for having taken care of this for so long and like pointing them in that direction.
18:16:17 Yeah, I think it's just for me the line is very much when you get money involved.
18:16:24 Because you have to remember that like say for example, there's a lot of people, there's a lot of indigenous folks who, they You know, they might they might want to do something, economically around these things like they may be able, they may be able to say, well, you know, we have these for ceremonial purposes, but also like here we have a more commercial
18:16:44 variety, but the barriers of entry for For people who have been historically. Marginalized historically affected in so many ways is much, much harder to get something like that to market and to be able to scale it and do all of the like businessy things around it then somebody who is in just a very different positionality.
18:17:10 Somebody who has access to capital either through institutional means, like you're not going to get discriminated against because your you know, just historically certain folks have greater access to banking and to funding.
18:17:24 I'd more accessible rates. You might have generational wealth like say your family wants to invest in your business.
18:17:34 Like there's just different structural things that are going to be able to have that be easier for certain folks to bring those things to market.
18:17:42 Then people who are the ones that are rightly in to that access to that market to be able to tap that market because those are the people who have been taking care of all of this.
18:17:53 But they're not able to for so many reasons, like a lot of it being, like I'm saying, like these institutional things, other things being just the fact that they're dealing with their own personal, like it's really hard to navigate life when you are dealing with historical intergenerational trauma.
18:18:09 It's very, very difficult. Like, your, the, the levels in which your mental health is affected.
18:18:14 It's all just very, very complex and compounded. And so yeah, I think the line very much comes down to commercially, how are you doing things?
18:18:26 If there is an economic. Something to be gained from it, you might want to think again.
18:18:33 Thank you so much for saying all of that, I think you said that just you know, and such.
18:18:41 And such a good way, you know. I just wanted to touch a little bit on.
18:18:48 A couple of things just because, you know, as the person who, both comes from, you know, corn peoples as well as a person who's, you know, farms and save to 10 seat events and things like that and you know even works for an organization that is you know founded on the education around seeds.
18:19:17 It's kind of like, it, you know, the lines are the lines are crossed in a lot of different ways and things like get a little tricky and I think you said, yeah, a lot of it has to do with economics like you had noted.
18:19:31 But you know, there's something important to acknowledge that like, you know, when a seed is grown out.
18:19:41 Not in the community that was stewarded by and not within those same conditions. Then you know it's no longer hopey blue corn right.
18:19:50 Right, right, true.
18:19:51 It's corn that came from Hopi Bluecorn seed, but if it's grown in, you know, Colorado under irrigation and not dry farm from the Hopi Butts.
18:20:02 It's no longer Hopi Bluecorn, but it did it, you know, it did come from, and that is a good thing, you know, to continue to, grow that corn, especially if it is for your own family.
18:20:17 You know, subsistence because that is the spirit of that corn. You know, it is to be subsisted upon.
18:20:23 And so I think that that's like where it becomes appropriate like you had said. But the commercialization of blue corn has been extremely detrimental.
18:20:36 To you know my culture in particular. And there is like a really there we've seen in a lot of like Smaller, more intimate spaces.
18:20:48 We're like people have come in and they're like asking elders who are in an obvious.
18:20:56 You know, very poor socio economic state. If they would be willing to sell their blue corn seed and you know these are people who just did a presentation on like the economic benefit of patenting blue corn seed and, you know, how they would like to.
18:21:15 Like, get it out to the world. And so the world could benefit from, you know, the nutrient availability and, and like, you know, on one side, it's really like, yeah, we do want.
18:21:28 You know, everyone who wants to subsist upon this corn to do so. Because that's the spirit of it.
18:21:35 But like. If there is like on the downwind part that. Part of economy. You know, like then that becomes like the kink in it, right?
18:21:49 That's the part where the spirit can no longer like travel through. And I think that's really important to acknowledge.
18:22:01 And then, yeah, I think that there's like a lot of things that we can grow commercially and.
18:22:07 And so, I mean, like. Like our crops, we can take the farmers markets and things like that.
18:22:14 It just, I think it depends on like. The level commercially as well. You know, like if you're wanting to only grow blue corn because you want to be get into the market of like glue corn chips and you wanna be up there with.
18:22:30 I don't know. I don't remember some of the blue corn makers, but you know, you want to get up there and you wanna be one of those folks who gets rich off of bluecorn chips.
18:22:41 Like that's like a huge glaring like no for me. And. And yeah, like, you know, you.
18:22:49 It just, like you said, the economics and like the level and the spirit behind it. All of that.
18:22:59 Yeah, thank you, Mercy. I appreciate that, especially the sentiment of, Yeah, kinda like the spirit behind these things.
18:23:07 It is very much. Lost. At a certain, at a certain point. And yeah, I, I don't think if there's a problem with anybody growing it for their own use, for their families use.
18:23:21 But yeah, but once it kind of becomes a way in which Yeah, you're basing a lot of your your own financial situation.
18:23:31 On it. Or wanting to Expand that. It just gets very difficult because there's a lot of people who in these communities could really utilize something like that, but they're just They just don't have the same, pathway to access to it, I guess.
18:23:49 We have a hand up raised by Adrian.
18:23:50 I see. There's 2 other hands raised. If you want to just unmute either one of you and ask away.
18:23:58 I think that we got a few more minutes of
18:24:00 This is Adrian and Swach and I just wanted to thank. Well, and. Everyone else that has been participating for.
18:24:12 They're sharing out about the healing part. A lot of the trauma that is spoken about is just covered now on the conversation particularly around the economics and the historical trauma of the economics and all of those conditions that have.
18:24:35 May the healing so important right now. So I really appreciate your openness with sharing out about that is it is really.
18:24:45 A lot to. Consider in this space. And, it is really in my experience with Sales Project.
18:24:55 So much about the healing and so much about the discovery of the potential for healing. So I really would like to, just again, voice my appreciation for that and to.
18:25:11 Can consider how that when we talk about the economics that we really think about that history very seriously and how that we can.
18:25:23 Not move those traumas forward.
18:25:27 Hmm. Thanks, Adrian. I appreciate you saying that.
18:25:39 Was there someone else that had their hand raised and wanted to make a comment?
18:25:52 I realize that we're over in our time and really appreciate everyone hanging on. I just had 2 questions, for, Part of your journey was to also research and really connect to And, you know, I just wanted to ask if you had new discoveries or new understandings of planting in that way.
18:26:20 Yeah, so, for those who don't know is just, it's that's the Spanish term for, the companion planning, which is a good photo of it.
18:26:31 This is, this is the little plot that I grew at my grandma's house. So you have beans growing on the, coin stocks there, squash, and obviously the corn, the squash helps to shade, the root zones of the, of the corn, and keep, kinda cool and also serves as like a weed cover.
18:26:54 And the beans are inputting nitrogen into the into the soil. This is commonly around here known as like the 3 sisters.
18:27:05 But, the overall refers to kind of like different types of companion planting like this is a very common one.
18:27:15 Probably the most common one. But there's also like the inclusion of chili peppers as like a pest turn as well.
18:27:25 Like a lot of people struggle with in their gardens and stuff. They try to grow 3 sisters and they struggle with like raccoons and things that come to eat their stuff.
18:27:34 And a lot of traditional planting included, like chilies also, which the caps and and stuff keep some of those little critters away.
18:27:43 And I think the There I guess like 2 things that I that I learned in the investigation of kind of like the the significance of it.
18:27:53 Is. On the one end, yeah, from just like a very scientific, point of view and from like a very like practical sense.
18:28:03 Of why you would do this. And, I think probably many of us who are in the in the viewership if you're, you know, following along with kind of this, more traditional way of growing things.
18:28:21 It's just healthier overall to have something that is, symbiotically related, you know, the, the plants are all kind of working together.
18:28:32 And the most interesting thing that I learned probably was related to like the chili peppers and the way that that kind of plays into it, which is usually not included when you think when you hear about like 3 sisters.
18:28:45 And it's not just It's not just these things, there's other things that get planted as well.
18:28:49 But yeah, from a scientific point of view, like a polyculture is just superior, but again, like when you start to incorporate these.
18:28:58 Economic modes of thinking, needing for there to be uniformity and yield and all of these different things.
18:29:10 Because that's, I guess, the way that we think is the best way to go about feeding folks.
18:29:17 I guess the way that we think is the best way to go about feeding folks, you lose a lot of vitality in in your plants, the strength of them, just the overall like happiness and and and the spirit of them really truly is lost.
18:29:27 And so I feel like I was able to like experience that. First hand and like the planting of this muffa and in being around and in other meet buzz while I was down there and then in another sense kind of similar to the conversation related to corn and like the diversification.
18:29:44 Of it. Excuse me, the diversity that is within it. Also similarly, the way the meat bar kind of works, in conjunction with each other is also a very good example of how how we can work.
18:30:01 Together, as people and how again, like it's this reflection of that we each have something different.
18:30:08 To bring forth that ends up enriching the overall system. And so that was something that I feel like was a profound reflection for me is the way that it relates to to all of us.
18:30:24 Yeah, and just how each of us is unique. And together we can. Yeah, we can make something really amazing, but it requires us to work together.
18:30:35 Stronger together, definitely. Those are some great sentiments to kind of conclude this conversation. And I really appreciate everybody offering their sentiments and just really having a great discussion about a lot of things that are probably on our minds as we grow food and tend to our gardens and you know, try to just provide us to our communities.
18:31:02 One last thing we always like to end on this, but I read in your report that Chel Kenya was your favorite seed.
18:31:10 In the pink one was your favorite of all the samples. Would you, why would you say that this was your favorite seed?
18:31:19 Throughout your journey.
18:31:21 I think honestly it's just kind of like the picture really doesn't do it justice like if you see it IRL it is just very the color is.
18:31:32 It's like it's like shocking like how yeah this picture really it's just you really can't tell through here but it's just like a very like whoa that corn is pink like it's like it's pink.
18:31:43 And Yeah, it's just something that like I had never I know I've seen like book horns I've seen redcorns, you know, I've seen all these like colors of corn, but I'd never seen a corn that was like that vibrantly pink.
18:32:00 And I guess it just like probably a lot of wonder and a lot of like. I don't know, it's just incredulous that that.
18:32:09 That color could show up in. You know, like naturally in something like corn. Like you see it in like flowers and things like that, but Again, like I grew up with a very like boring version of corn like it was very unfortunately like super disconnected from like yeah the history of corn and anything like that and I just grew up you know in the United States I just grew up with the idea of like There's yellow
18:32:36 sweetcorn and there's white corn as well and like That's all I have a new corn to be and I think that's what most people think of when they think of corn.
18:32:44 And so to see something so like radically different, it just kind of like gave me pause, I guess.
18:32:57 Well, thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure. It's been great to have all of you join us and seed story and Val with you going back to Mexico at the end of the month, are we going to be able to get another synthesis from you, maybe sometime next year.
18:33:18 Sure. I mean, this time I'm not going super with like, I'm going just kind of to see my grandma and to touch base with a couple of folks and I'm not going to be doing so much.
18:33:31 Like going around to different places. But, I don't know. I'm hoping to start doing some things related to, the Southwest and kind of like looking at a lot of the different. Corns are.
18:33:46 That are stewarded here and kind of like, I was saying like that kind of like the 4 part.
18:33:52 I feel like it's a 4 part journey. And so like there were Central Mexico and then now I've kind of been looking at things, things in this part of part of the world, the Southwest.
18:34:05 And so I might be focusing on that a little bit more. So yeah, I guess that's the answer.
18:34:10 Well, I do follow you on Instagram and if nobody here has seen Val’s Instagram at least during her travels it was so beautiful and full of so much culture and artistry and it was such a joy to watch all of your stories.
18:34:26 So, aside from social media, is there any way that we can, you know, continue to monitor your travels or like the work that you're doing.
18:34:37 Yeah, I don't know. I'm just really not like I did create that social media specifically for that project.
18:34:42 And the the full report is there if anybody wants to see it. It's it's in that Instagram bio.
18:34:51 That was kind of like the combination of that project but right now I am, there's a couple things like in the works, but at this point in time, like there's not.
18:34:58 There's not really like a link or anything. You can maybe add me on LinkedIn, I guess.
18:35:02 I'm not super, I'm just like not super active online honestly. But Yeah, I think a lot of folks here are like very personally like connected to me.
18:35:13 So, yeah. I'm sure I'll pop up here in there. You'll see me.
18:35:17 Well, I hope you keep us informed and really appreciate you doing this journey. As well as sharing with us and, would love to see more of it.
18:35:26 So thank you very much for the work that you're doing. We'll continue to do.
18:35:30 Well, thank you guys. I appreciate you guys as a platform and for, yeah, the work of bringing, awareness.
18:35:46 Thank you.
18:35:38 Around seeds the importance of seeds and yeah I'm excited to see what you guys continue to do as well so Thank you and you know we're all out here.
18:35:50 That's right. Well, thank you all for joining us. We do have a seed story third Thursday of every month.
18:35:56 This is something that you want to do or if you want to nominate anyone to participate as well. We just love hearing about the real work of the people that you want to do or if you want to nominate anyone to participate as well.
18:36:08 We just love hearing about this, the real work of the people that are doing, we just love hearing about this, the real work of the people that are doing, you know, encouraging changes in the food system.
18:36:12 Yes, Thank you.
18:36:20 Thank you.