Note ANTHROPOLOGY OF NUTRITION Mexico Homogeneity and Diversity of Mesoamerican Foods Maize, beans and squash-classic trilogy Concept of protein complementarity -amino acids are nitrogen containing compounds that are used to build proteins -amino acids- some are essential in the diet and others we can make in our body (non-essential) -also concept of conditionally essential amino acids- some non essential amino acids can become conditionally essential -for example if an essential amino acid, critical to making a non-essential amino acid in the body, is missing from the diet then the nonessential amino acid becomes essential -but such essentiality is conditional upon the essential amino acid missing from the diet or a breakdown in the metabolic machinery Protein complementarity- maize and beans -maize is lysine deficient- lysine is essential to humans -beans are tryptophan deficient- tryptophan is an essential amino acid -maize and beans eaten together provide sufficient amounts of lysine and tryptophan Maize- preparing corn by soaking in a lime solutions -Makes niacin more available - adds calcium to the diet It has been argued that the beans maize complex, supplemented with: vitamin-rich squash, chilis and wild greens provided a stable agricultural economy and is one reason why the population of Mexico grew with considerable accompanying cultural complexity. This trilogy is homogenous -steadiness of diet (time homogeneity) -found across various economic groups However the total diet is not truly homogenous -tortillas with a salsa of chilis and beans -oranges, limes, bananas, melons and mangoes -stews made of tomatoes, squash and/or greens -on festival occasions- turkey is eaten turkey in a thick chili sauce A steady diet of the trilogy would not meet what aspects of a good diet? One example of malnutrition in Mexico is children This malnutrition arises from the belief that some foods are bad for children (eg milk is unhealthy) concept of when a good food becomes a bad food Such beliefs are in theory overcome by education Education about why the bad foods are really good for children Education about improvements in sanitationavoiding dysentery Dysentery is an infection of the intestine causing diarrhoea Normally the intestine reabsorbs water However when there is an infection the intestine becomes inflamed and irritated and loses its water reabsorption capabilities Diarrhoea results in the loss of vitamins and minerals since they are not absorbed by the intestine Anthropology discussions up to the 1960s regarding nutrition in Mexico centred on beliefs and values of the populations being studied ie food choices depended on the beliefs and values of the populations After 1960s -focus of such studies changed to economic, political features - studied ie food choices can be changed by working on economic and political aspects governing the populations In other words, it was believed that it was more important to change the economics, politics than to change the peoples beliefs and values Question is - does this shift in approach really work? Beans and tortillas are highly valued by many Some consider beans to be food better associated with the aboriginal community in Mexico the reason for consideration of beans depends on economic status -those individuals with a higher income tend to look disparagingly at beans believing them to be “poor peoples” food thus are food choices being made with racial overtones? -regardless of the reasons for the choice is there a nutritional impact on those with money?