The Prehispanic Diet and Its Significance for Mexico

April 5, 2021 By Lino Montalvo

Do you know what it means to decolonize your diet? Most Mexicans, and Latin Americans in general, are not familiar with the term decolonization.

However, it’s a global trend in continuous expansion due to its social significance. This movement consists of reclaiming the customs, traditions and legacy of our native people, bringing them to the present, healing our relationship with them and understanding that a large portion of our lifestyle is imposed by those who write history, not ourselves.

Although it’s a complex movement worth learning, we Mexicans have a relatively simple way of including decolonization into our lives and jump on this food trend through the Prehispanic diet.

What is the prehispanic diet?

Our prehispanic people based their diet on corn, beans, peppers, amaranth, seeds, avocado, edible flowers, nopal and a variety of white and red meats, in addition to insects. Even though these ingredients don’t sound any different to what most Mexicans eat on a daily basis, it varies in preparation methods.

They boiled, grilled and cooked in stone, even prepared barbecues, but they never fried because this technique was unknown to them. That’s the detail that makes the greatest distinction between the mesoamerican prehispanic diet and the Mexican diet we know today.

Its social and environmental impact

Decolonizing ourselves intrinsically helps the economy of indigenous groups. Specifically regarding food, eating a prehispanic diet promotes their cultivation methods, which are developed in a sustainable way within their communities, in a more natural way, free of chemicals and pesticides, emphasizing the seasonal crop rather than overproducing a crop so that it lasts all year. Likewise, the livestock and breeding of animals for consumption is carried out more responsibly, feeding them in a healthier way with grass, herbs and grains harvested locally and avoiding their mass reproduction.

Multiple studies have proven the nutritional, social and environmental benefits of the mesoamerican prehispanic gastronomy. Raising its visibility and promotion is crucial not only to support and promote the culture and economy of our indigenous people, but also to understand where we come from and where we should go.

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