To grow or to buy : food staples and cultural identity in the Southern Ecuadorian Andes Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/h415pd129

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  • In this era of free trade and globalization, food is traveling greater and greater distances to its consumers. This is causing small farms and small farmers all over the world to protest as their livelihood is being undercut by cheap agricultural commodities from outside their communities. In the Ecuadorian Andes, these protests are becoming well organized and are having an influence on the national government and its policies. This thesis seeks to answer questions about the role outside food staples play in the daily life of the Cañari of the Southern Ecuadorian Andes, the factors that are influencing the decisions made by households on what to eat, about how much control the community has over what is bought and sold in its local markets and about where this control comes from and how it is being used to improve the livelihood of the community. My research shows that food staples from outside of the indigenous communities that form TUCAYTA have become an important part of the diet of Cañari families that are not able to or choose not to meet their subsistence needs through what my Cañari informants consider their 'traditional methods.' The major causes for the lack of ability or desire to feed their families with crops cultivated on their own plots of land generally came from a lack of access to sufficient land to meet their families need, a lack of labor-power to cultivate the land they had access to and/or a perceived lack of need to grow their own food as remittances from family members overseas were enough to meet the food needs of their families. While in general, communities do not have much control over what is bought and sold in the local markets, the indigenous political movement pachacutik is attempting to change this. Pachacutik has been involved in protests that aim to put the demands of indigenous communities into the forefront of many political debates happening in the capital. These protests come in the form of blocking major transportation arteries to disrupt the flow of fresh foods from rural areas to the urban centers. In effect, the power of these protests comes from the control indigenous communities have over the domestic food supply.
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