Corn: Widely Used, Political, Controversial

Join New College Equity Studies for a stimulating presentation about corn — one of the world’s most widely-used, politicized and controversial plants.

Gustavo Esteva, a leading Mexican activist and intellectual, will be speaking about Corning the World, how agribusiness has taken over the culture of corn, and how indigenous peoples and social movements are resisting. The event will also be a celebration of Lauren Baker’s new book, Corn Meets Maize: Food Movements and Markets in Mexico. Chocolate treats will be provided by Chocosol Traders.

Monday January 28th
2:00-4:00 pm
University of Toronto, Wilson Lounge, 40 Willcocks Street

Following this event (4:00-6:00 pm), everyone is invited to continue the conversation with Gustavo and Lauren, and taste more chocolate treats at Harvest Noon Café on the 2nd floor of the GSU building, 16 Bancroft Avenue.

About Gustavo Esteva

Gustavo Esteva is a Mexican activist, “deprofessionalized intellectual,” author and founder of the Universidad de la Tierra in the Mexican city of Oaxaca. Although raised in a Spanish household, Esteva embraced his Zapotec Indian roots. One of the most significant memories of his childhood was that his Zapotec grandmother was not permitted to enter the front door of the house because she was an Indian. Esteva’s relationship with his grandmother shaped his life and led him to investigate the Mexican identity, the experience of people on the margins, and the essential role of corn in Mexican culture. A meeting with Ivan Illich in 1983 led Esteva to explore radical approaches to education. Esteva has been an IBM executive, an official in the government of Mexican President Echeverria, and an advisor to the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in Chiapas in their negotiations with the Mexican government. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Economy and Alienation (1980), Hope at the Margins: Beyond Human Rights and Development (1997) and The Oaxaca Commune and Mexico’s Autonomous Movements, (2008). He currently works at the Centre for Intercultural Dialogues and Exchanges in the City of Oaxaca, as well as with Indian groups and NGO’s.

About Corn Meets Maize: Food Movements and Markets in Mexico by Lauren Baker

This compelling book explores the intimate connections between people and plants, agriculture and cooking, and the practical work of building local food networks and transnational social movements. Lauren E. Baker uses corn and maize to consider central debates about food security and food sovereignty, biodiversity and biotechnology, culture and nature, as well as globalization and local responses, in Mexico and beyond. For the author, corn symbolizes the commoditization of agriculture and the cultural, spiritual, ecological and economic separation of people from growing, cooking, and sharing food. Conversely, maize represents emerging food movements that address contemporary health, environmental, and economic imperatives while rooted in agricultural and culinary traditions. The meeting of corn and maize reveals the challenge of, and possibilities for, reclaiming food from its commodity status in the global context of financial turmoil, food crises, and climate change.

Lauren Baker is the coordinator of the Toronto Food Policy Council at the City of Toronto. She teaches in the Equity Studies program at the University of Toronto and is a research associate with the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University.