For the past 2-3 years, I have thought a lot about scarcity and the mindset it brings. I have learned a lot about how I have allowed scarcity to affect me and I know that I am not alone. Not by a long shot, but that doesn’t help me feel better. Culturally, our collective circumstance of scarcity is alarming. The scarcity mindset affects us on all levels so it’s no surprise we believe that this suffering is normal. We also believe that “overcoming” scarcity in terms of success (success is often defined within a small box) gets the cultural blue ribbon. I kind of hate this hero’s journey.
See example below. Scarcity content. New Mexico (where I happen to live) ranks last in terms of providing our children a basic need–Food. I mean, really imagine how it must feel to look in your cupboard and see two cans of green beans, tuna fish and maybe a box of cookies. The fridge has less than a half gallon of milk, a pitcher of green Kool-aid, some wilty celery stalks, margarine, browning iceberg lettuce, leftover fried potatoes, a few slices of bologna and a few slices of bread.
How will food scarcity affect our future? It’s not usually a hero’s journey.
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the 1980s and
1990s when Presidents Reagan and Clinton rolled back social welfare programs
helping families through hard financial times, often harming single family
households most of all. I lived in a subsidized housing community with my
sister and mom, spending unsupervised afternoons and summers playing with other
kids for hours going home only to gulp gallons of Kool-aid and to grab a snack
and dinner. During summers we had daily picnics eating the free lunches through
the summer lunch program.
During these slim times, I watched my mother make meals out
of almost nothing and I ate it up. We lived on pinto beans, chile peppers,
canned fruits and vegetables, potatoes and different gravy-type concoctions
made from tuna and ground beef served over toast. Salads, fresh vegetables,
chicken and other meats were occasional treats. A fried bologna sandwich with
mustard, chile dusted potato chips, and hot peppers is still one of my
favorites despite that most of my career is in the health field.
Due to my mother’s work schedule, we also spent a lot of time
in the small town of Los Lunas with my
aunt and grandparents. I observed food from seed to table every summer. Taking
part in some of the processing like helping shell peas and putting red chile
marinated pork through a sieve to extract chile pork broth for use in the masa
for tamales to sell at Christmas time. I sneakily stole rich, flavorful masa
right out of the massive stainless-steel bowl. I learned to can pickles, make
preserves and dehydrate fruits just by watching.
I ate it all with gusto.
Topics I am passionate about
I write about the American Southwest, specifically New Mexico because I do live there, a frontier border state and a first stop for immigrants from Mexico. As the fifth largest state geographically in the U.S., population is sparse and mostly rural. New Mexico unintentionally competes with Mississippi for last place in topics such as “great place to raise children,” stellar educational outcomes, and percentage of people in poverty. However, its multicultural population, gorgeous landscapes make for a great place to produce films, build gigantic companies like Intel that are warmly welcomed by communities with little to no tax burden only to lay off hundreds of people when their tax-free incentives expire.
I have background in Geographic Information Systems and food
supply chains in New Mexico. I also have served on advisory groups to change
small school meal programs that use locally grown food. I want to see more
health care institutions serve a proactive role in community food security. As
a former faculty member at New Mexico State University, I participated in a
study to develop a survey to help food pantries devise systems to serve
healthier food items in a welcoming environment.
In some of these blogs, I will describe my community health work with SNAP-ed witnessing immigrant exploitation through agriculture and multi-level marketing supplement businesses. I also have a strong concern of supplement industry promoting a culture of being too busy to engage in wellness activities like eating well and getting some movement. The supplement industry offers products as a solution for wellness without robust research or regulation while glorifying busy-ness.