You Are What You Eat: Vegetables Grow Community Resilience in Puerto Firmeza

A lot of meanings are wrapped up in food. Culture, community, love, and relationships with our surrounding landscape and non-human species are all rolled into how we nourish ourselves on a daily basis. So it says a lot when a group of Shipibo mothers team up to change the way they are feeding the children of their whole community by offering healthy school breakfasts once a week.
This all began last year, when Mariana Orta, our in-house nutritionist, began classes about nutrition for mothers in the community. Having researched the Shipibo diet in three different communities, it became very apparent that important micronutrients were missing. This lack of nutrients correlated closely with an abandonment of the traditional diet of fish, fruit and vegetables for a more processed, Western one. This change of diet is mirrored in the overall degradation of their landscape and loss of eco-diversity. How does a community live by example and reverse the empty-carb tide for the sake of itself, its children, and the land they depend on?
ninos en linea 1
To establish a foundation for reclaiming culture, food, and health, Mariana worked with the mothers leading cooking and nutritional classes to provide missing micronutrients into traditional recipes. The hands-on learning and enjoyment of the food they produced led to the program’s
expansion into providing school breakfast.
Since the nutritionist left Peru to continue her studies, the mothers have taken charge of the menu and cooking themselves, making – along with the
coordination and support of two young Shipibo women – the program completely run by indigenous women.
This cooking project runs alongside our recently extended permaculture project in the community, where eight hectares of land is being cultivated to produce fruits, vegetables, cocoa, and other crops that can both sustain the community and bring in extra cash at the local market. The cradle-to-cradle, self-sustaining cycle of school children using the organic compost toilets we built, which along with the community-collected organic waste provides fertilizer for the crops that get cooked by the mothers to provide nutritious meals consumed by the children, who then use the bathroom that helps produce more compost to grow more food etc. etc, is a strong model we want to continue expanding into other communities as well. Children who grow up living these values are much more likely to integrate similar resilient and holistic thinking into their community development and problem solving, leading to villages with healthy bodies, culture, ecosystems, and futures.

Deborah Rivett on Friday, 08 August 2014

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