A bloody civil war opening the floodgates of the globalization of foodways. There are many positions on how Guatemala’s foodways were changed including the alteration of dietary nutrition and the dramatic changes to imports and exports of the country. Some positions inquired upon the cultural significance of the replacement of traditional food crops like maize with nontraditional crops for exportation. The entrance of Guatemala into the global economy has also been argued to have introduced them to new competition, fluctuating food prices and new forms of employment.
Looking deeper into the effects of globalized foodways in Guatemala, raises questions of who benefits and what has happened to traditional crops? Effects on Guatemalan Diet The negative effect of the globalization of foodways on the nutrition of the Guatemalan people especially children encompasses the influx of snack foods and the moving away from traditional nutritious foods. The addition of snack foods to the diets of many Guatemalans has made a country who already has malnutrition in about 25% of the population replace traditional foods with processed low nutrition foods (Replogle, 2004, p. 056). Foods such as beans, rice and tortillas are being replaced with cheap instant foods lacking any and all nutritional value (Replogle, 2004, p. 2057). This kind of unhealthy substitution was also seen in other central American countries such as Mexico where they substitute “alimentos pacotilla (snack foods)” for nutritious proteins from vegetables such as beans and corn (Pilcher, 2005, p. 241). In the Mendoza family they steer clear of processed soft drinks in their village, Todos Santos Cuchumatan, Guatemala (D’Aluisio, 2005, p. 157).
This is rewarded with “beautifully white, cavity free teeth” which attests to the unhealthy qualities that drinking soft drinks has (D’Aluisio, 2005, p. 157). Besides the impact of new snack foods, the globalization of food has also affected the accessibility of food in general. The new crops are taking the place of traditional crops that had previously fed the farming families directly. As the adoption of nontraditional crops took prevalence over crops for direct consumption the women within families were required to spend a majority of their time packaging and tending to the new foods (Isakson, 2014, p. 52).
These nontraditional foods could take up to 1000% more time to cultivate then traditional foods and was speculated to compromise children’s access to food because their mothers didn’t have much time to make food for household consumption (Isakson, 2014, p. 352). The cash crops take precedence over traditional crops leaving only the outskirts of the property for them to be grown in so the women had to travel farther to take care of and gather them (Isakson, 2014, p. 352). Another direct example of this is Felix Perez’s situation in the middle of an African Palm plantation (Rosenthal, 2013).
He has to walk 3 miles to a cheap hillside plot, to garden food for direct consumption, when once he did this right behind his house, and he stated “Every day it’s more difficult to survive since we live off the land, and there’s less and less,” (As cited in Rosenthal, 2013). In a country where half of the children under the age five suffer from malnutrition this is a very negative position on the globalization of foodways in Guatemala (Walter, 2011). The new crops shift focus from the nutritious preparation of food to other forms.
Nixtamalization is a process that uses traditional foods to create a highly nutritious form of sustenance (Isakson, 2014, p. 353). The process includes dry maize kernels, legumes, tomatoes, chilies and avocadoes that provide healthy fats, amino acids, vitamins A and C, calcium and fruity acids (Isakson, 2014, p. 353). Moving away from traditional crops has also moved away from the nixtamalization because those healthy and reliable crops are no longer at the forefront of Guatemalan production or consumption because the globalized market calls for other cash crops.
The globalization of foodways has also from another point of view, increased the accessibility of meat. This position falls under the positive goal of the globalization of foodways “that there will be cheaper and more accessible food for the population at the global level” (As cited in Replogle, 2004, p. 2057). As yellow maize is increasingly imported, from other countries such as the United States to Guatemala, which is used for animal consumption, livestock farms have grown dramatically (Isakson, 2014, p. 353).
Increasing meat production and supplementing their diets with more protein and products that come from livestock such as eggs than ever before. Some people refer to this as the “meatification” of Guatemalan diets (As cited in Isakson, 2014, p. 359). They now partake in twice as much chicken and pork on average (Isakson, 2014, p. 359). This position indicates that the globalization of food in Guatemala provides new food sources. “Combined, the increased consumption meat, snacks and processed foods mark a dramatic transformation of Guatemalan diets” (Isakson, 2014, p. 59).. Effects on Guatemalan Economy The civil war in Guatemala is what catalyzed the globalization of foodways within the country.
The war needed to be funded and the opening of Guatemala to global markets increased profits (Isakson, 2014, p. 355). In order to make a profit the countries agriculture shifted to cash crops for exportation based on what other countries such as the U. S. wanted (Isakson, 2014, p. 361). These cash crops included winter vegetables, tropical fruits, snow peas, melons, African palm and cardigan (Isakson, 2014, p. 61). To increase output, Guatemala took part in the Green Revolution using new agricultural technology to make food production more efficient (Isakson, 2014, p. 355). The new technology included fertilizers, pesticides and new agricultural techniques (Isakson, 2014, p. 355).
A negative position on the new techniques and agricultural reforms studied the way these changes made Guatemala dependent on foreign markets. This dependency on global food markets creates an unstable sense of security (Isakson, 2014, p. 48). When the food market crashes Guatemalans take a huge hit because they are so invested in it (Replogle, 2004, p. 2057). When the production of wheat and yellow corn went down in the United States due to bad weather, tortilla and bread prices went up in Guatemala (Walter, 2011, p. 99). This made a huge impact on Guatemalans because they are so reliant on imports (Walter, 2011, p. 100). They were forced to change their diets because it was no longer feasible to eat those foods.
Yellow corn is used for animal consumption so Guatemalan meat production also suffered from the United States production problems (Walter, 2011, p. 99). The price of the basic food basket in Guatemala becomes too much for many rural families due to their fluctuating prices on the international market (Replogle, 2004, p. 2057). This reliance not only affects the purchasing of food directly but also their own agricultural production. The fertilizer Guatemalans import to use on their farms to maintain the quality of products to export has increased by 200% due to global markets (Walter, 2011, p. 00).
Another negative position indicates that the globalization of foodways also introduced Guatemala to foreign competition and tedious foreign relationships. A revealing instance of this is Guatemala’s relationship with the United States. For example, the huge baby product corporation known as Gerber was not allowed to advertise their baby formulas and foods as healthier than breast milk in Guatemala (Walljasper, 2001). The United States alleged that this was “a restraint on trade” and challenged the law through the World Trade Organization (Walljasper, 2001).
Guatemala, fearing the devastation of their economy through WTP trade sanctions, rescinded its law (Walljasper, 2001). The United States essentially bullied Guatemala into submitting because it is a smaller less economically formidable country. The competition, when consisting of the multinational corporations, such as those for coffee including Sarah Lee and Nestle also decreases the amount of money the actual farmers get when they sell their raw crops (Eakin, Tucker, & Castellanos, 2006, p. 159).
Globalization of foodways from this perspective is seen as “a double edged sword for the small producer who suddenly finds that his product has no value” (As cited in Replogle, 2004, p. 2057). This indicates that small farm holders cannot compete with global entities. Local production of traditional foods has fallen due to the more profitable endeavor of importing such commodities (Replogle, 2004, p. 2057). The crop that has been most affected by this is maize which previously was a huge portion of Guatemala’s crops (Isakson, 2014, p. 58). “Guatemalan farmers could not compete, and corn production dropped roughly 30 percent per capita from 1995 to 2005” (As cited in Rosenthal, 2013). Effects on Guatemalan Culture As the globalization of foodways opened Guatemala to new markets it also closed the door to many cultural practices. This not only included the production of nontraditional crops it also entailed the new food perspective of a new religion. Traditionally many farmers would produce a lot of maize by “making milpa” (Isakson, 2014, p. 353).
A milpa is a cornfield that can include “beans, squash, chilies, fruit trees, leafy greens, herbs, medicinal plants and edible weeds” (Isakson, 2014, p. 353). These traditional gardens provided for the nutritional diets and preparations including the ingredients for nixtamalization discussed earlier. As globalization decreased the production of maize within Guatemala such traditional gardens diminished as other nontraditional crops were added (Isakson, 2014, p. 360). Guatemala previous to globalization had been able to produce its traditional crop of corn self-sufficiently (As cited in Rosenthal, 2013).
Maize was imported instead (Isakson, 2014, p. 360). Maize is integral to Guatemalans cultural background connecting them to their Mayan heritage and its disappearance has greatly harmed their culture (Isakson, 2014, p. 353). An anthropologist greatly emphasized this when she stated that maize “is one of the few crops that is so dominant in the regional and culture and society of its origin that it might be perceived as having domesticated humans as much as humans domesticated it” (As cited in Isakson, 2014, p. 53).
The way the globalization of foodways in Guatemala has diminished the role of cultivating maize is a negative position. As the protestant church was introduced to Guatemala during the civil war to counteract the influence of the Roman Catholic Church on the rebels, new food ideas were brought with them. The catholic church had to strong a grip on the people and the government wanted to modernize without the churches interference (Manewal, 2007, p. 50).
To “restrict the traditional role of the Catholic Church, while potentially providing a means with which to indoctrinate indigenous populations with a pro-Western and submissive ideology in the future” (Manewal, 2007, p. 50). The protestants promoted the capitalist economy and its commercial agriculture as opposed to the traditional milpa based economy and subsistence farming (Isakson, 2014, p. 355). As much as 30% of Guatemalans have converted to protestant and in turn accepted the new ideas (Isakson, 2014, p. 355). This changed the cultural preference of many Guatemalans drawing them towards the new export oriented agriculture.