When you cross into Mexico from the US, you see a quaint, rustic, old village, as befits a country stuck in the past. Well, except that some of those shops are remarkably alike, you see the same shop, whether you cross from Texas, Arizona, or California.  Which suggests a chain, like Cracker Barrel, or for that matter KFC.  Which in turn suggests the whole stuck in the past thing is a bit of a front for tourists.

In fact Mexico City is one of the world’s largest cities, with a sophisticated cosmopolitan center, and much of Mexico is as advanced as anywhere. And that brings me to agriculture.

The Yaqui Valley is a well-developed agricultural area in Mexico, with large, modern, sophisticated farms being operated entirely in the modern, chemical-using, environment-destroying way. All around the valley, in the foothills, there are villages where people live in less sophisticated ways, practicing subsistence agriculture where they pretty much eat what they produce.

Melinda Hemmelgam is an American writer, known as the ‘Food Sleuth’, google it and learn. Writing in the September issue of ACRES, a US magazine written for those with an interest in natural farming, she tells of a study done on those Yaqui Valley kids by Dr. Guillette of the University of Florida.

Comparing those living in the valley with those living in the foothills, she found the valley kids “had deficits in learning, stamina, balance, eye-hand co-ordination and memory”. Solid evidence that exposure to modern chemistry does indeed have developmental effects, in spite of assurances from the powers that be.

Solid evidence that the stuff they put in and on our food is not tested anywhere near as thoroughly as it needs to be, especially for long term effects. The US is of course the giant in the room, and giant corporations (mostly American) have way too much to say about what gets approved – the approval process for new chemicals (and new drugs) is influenced far too much by politics, and not enough by science.  And what the US approves generally gets approved world wide – witness the storm Europe has faced over its refusal to accept genetically modified stuff.  Even though the modification is always in support of the chemical industry (GM crops which tolerate popular herbicides) or giant farm companies – (tomatoes which can be shipped a zillion miles without getting a bruise on them).

You have probably heard the joke about the guy, faced with an oncoming ravenous bear, who stops to put on running shoes. “Are you kidding”, says his partner, “You can’t outrun a bear!”   The guy answers “No, but I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you!”  So I try to eat as much natural food and as little frankenfood as I can without being a fanatic about it, on the theory that if I eat less than the average, I have a lot less chance of being a victim of unexpected side effects of that frankenfood.  Less chance of being eaten by the bear, so to speak.  Eat local, eat fresh.

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