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Posts Tagged ‘Día Nacional del Maíz’

On this Día Nacional del Maíz (National Day of Corn), in honor of the late Maestro Francisco Toledo, who led a fight to defend the native corn from genetically modified corn, a series of activities was held in four of the cultural spaces he bequeathed to Oaxaca. Understanding in Mexico, corn is life, my amiga and I braved the much-needed rain (that has now been falling for 24 hours) to participate in the activities.

Pasaporte Día del Maíz

Our first stop was at the Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo (photographic center), where each visitor was photographed in front of a display of maíz and the mobile unit of the Centro de las Artes de San Agustín (CaSa) made special commemorative prints.

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Backdrop for photos at the Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo

Next on the itinerary was the library, Fonoteca Eduardo Mata, where a video about the issue of transgenic corn was shown, corn masks were given, and we recieved a second stamp in our Pasaporte Día Nacional del Maíz.

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Raised beds of corn in the Ethnobotanic Garden

We then proceeded to the Jardín Etnobotánico (Ethnobotanic Garden), where we were introduced to two raised beds of maíz — one the silvestre abuelita (wild grandmother) and one her cultivated descendant that we rely on today.

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Serving pozol from an olla at IAGO

Our final stop of the day was at the Instituto de Arte Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO) where we were rewarded with many gifts — including a t-shirt or sweatshirt, a small flower pot of corn stalks, and a comida of tamales, nicuatole, and pozol (a prehispanic corn beverage).

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Field of corn in Teotitlán del Valle

Everyone should be honoring this day and giving thanks to the original peoples of Oaxaca for cultivating maíz 10,000 years ago.

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September 29 was Día Nacional del Maíz (National Day of Corn) in Mexico.  Corn was first cultivated approximately 8,000 years ago in the valley of Oaxaca and native varieties are still grown by the descendants of those original farmers.  This was a day to, not only pay homage to Mother Corn but, as Mexican painter Francisco Toledo reminded those along Oaxaca’s Alcalá, to continue the struggle to defend native corn against impending invasion by Monsanto and its genetically modified seeds.P1130669 The year revolves around the cycle of corn, which is planted in the same fields as beans and squash to make a perfect growing environment.P1130658The cornstalk grows, the bean plant crawls up the corn, and the squash vine sprawls out and shades the ground to keep it moist… Some of the corn is harvested in August and eaten fresh, while the rest is left on the stalks to dry.P1130662All parts of the corn plant are used — kernels, husks (for tamales), cobs (pig feed), and stalks (cow feed).  The dried corn is stored and used in many ways throughout the year.P1130675Text in italics is from the Seasons of My Heart cookbook by Susana Trilling.

The artists of the above, used the signature “olote” which is derived from Nahuatl word, olotl.  In English, it translates to “corncob” and “a nobody.”  Thank you to a couple of “nobodies,” Coral Saucedo and Ricardo Aeme, for such an expressive and beautiful piece of art honoring the sacred corn.

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