The Tortilla Crisis

Hosted by

Tortilla Making.jpg

There are few foods on earth as basic, revered and intrinsic to culture as the tortilla.  As a simultaneous source of nutrition and comfort, it is unrivaled. However, this humble food is under assault by the economic engine of modern food systems.  In the next few months, as the U.S. Food and Farm Bill moves through Congress, there will be more emphasis on the collision between corn as food and corn as fuel.  Enrique Ochoa teaches a class at CSU Pomona called Food, Power & Culture in the Americas. He recently wrote an article for ZNET on the cost of rising tortilla prices in Mexico, which have increased by more than ten times the recent increase in the minimum wage.  As corn costs continue to rise, much of the burden of the costs of tortillas will be shouldered by the poorest members of the community, for whom the tortilla is a daily staple.

Enrique C. Ochoa is a professor of History at the California State University, Los Angeles and the 2006-07 Weglyn Chair of Multicultural Studies at Cal Poly Pomona.  The author of Feeding Mexico: The Political Uses of Food Since 1910 (2000), he is currently writing a book on the tortilla industry in Mexico and Los Angeles.