Endless examples of such practices plague history. Aztec food fueled one of the most powerful empires in history. Among those foods was quinoa (highly nutritious), which was used in religious ceremonies and very central to the Inca and Aztec diet. Quinoa considered a threat to Spanish colonization was outlawed (in 1532). The Spanish burned the Inca’s quinoa crops and forced them to grow barley and wheat. Subsisting on just corn, potatoes, and wheat, malnutrition and high infant mortality rates became rampant.
More specific to the Aztecs is chia seed. The Spanish outlawed this highly nutritious seed as well. Chia alone, which the Aztecs called “the running food,” sustained Aztec warriors during their long journeys and frequent battles. To prevent infection they packed their wounds with chia seed when wounded in battle or hunting expeditions. As part of their campaign to destroy Aztec civilization chia fields were burned. This agricultural annihilation, is part of what vanquished the Aztecs (5, 2013, Arnot).
Populations ripped from the Amexen Empires (ie Mali, Songhai) in the 1500s were used to a diet of mangoes, avocadoes, nuts, various spices, millet, sorghum, teff, yams, coconut, palm oil, fish, dates, greens, lentils, etc. Within the Americas they were made to live off of meager portions of corn and pork. Malnutrition, rickets, vitamin A deficiency, anemia, intestinal diseases became common. Eventually, these populations kept this as the core of their diet adapting the modern American diet (wheat, sugar, corn, lots of meat). Presently, high blood pressure, hypertension, and diabetes is rampant among these populations. What’s the social-political climate like for African Americans now? People (i.e.Black Lives Matter) are still striving for liberation.
Blocking access to indigenous health options and quality healthcare is still a tool of oppression (i.e. Monsanto). Any time a people are disconnected from their culture/land, they decline…they become sick, they fall out of power. Why? Because ancient cultural practices (which include food/diet/modes of wellness connected to nature) are collections of knowledge meticulously cultivated and passed down over time. These traditions are time tested and they work. Our DNA is programmed to respond to certain foods in certain ways depending on our ancestors. Likewise, food has a direct effect on your DNA. Severing that and replacing it with a synthetic culture is like cutting an umbilical cord. This is why my family and I pursue the indigenous traditions that have survived. These traditions are diamonds which have withstood the pressures of lynchings, inquisitions, Manifest Destiny, eugenics, assimilation, color laws, conditioning, self-hate, and miseducation. Indigenous Holistic Health care considers the whole human (mind, body, and spirit) and inherently protects certain functions that western sciences are just now beginning to understand.
As a result, I know that as long as I honor my ancestors, implement the traditions, as long as I tread closely to that path (despite the dentist who is rough with me because I refuse fluoride and amalgams, the doctor who calls DHS on you because you seek less intrusive treatments, the pediatrician who calls you a bad mother because you refuse the flu vaccine, the system that imprisons you for raising your children vegetarian, the doctor who pushes you on your back
Dr. Llaila O. Afrika’s classes and books are so valued and empowering because they enable the ancient traditions to continue. They have given me and my family the gift of vitality and freedom. They contribute to liberation for all peoples.
Reference: The Aztec Diet, Dr. Bob Arnot