Society for Economic Botany/BSA Economic Botany Section
Linares , Edelmira , Bye, Robert .
Gastronomy and biodiversity conservation in Mexico.
Given the status of being one of the five megadiversity biota of the world and the privilege of being one of the three major centers of origin of agriculture, Mexico faces the challenge of conserving its natural capital for future inhabitants as well as protecting the germplasm of many of the world's economically important plants. With over 10% of the species being edible, the consumption of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds can be detrimental as well as beneficial to the sustainable use of Mexican flora. The shift from being a rural to an urban nation has forced Mexico to rely on the importation of staple foods while the general public has lost its appreciation of local edible plants. Ethnobotany contributes to biodiversity conservation by rescuing knowledge, practices, plants, and plant products and, consequently, promoting respect and utilization of these processes and foodstuffs. Given that many of the edible plants have evolved with Mexican ethnic groups in agricultural fields, anthropogenic sites and nearby wild habitats, the key to their conservation is the maintenance of plant-human interactions - in particular, eating. Mexican gastronomy, though founded upon the basic Mesoamerican triad of maize, bean and squash, is varied due to geographically local additives that vary taxonomically and to the cultural diversity of food preparation and gastronomic palette. In collaboration with various governmental and non-governmental organizations, our Botanical Garden has applied various approaches to conserving this gastronomic biodiversity at various levels through local schools, regional fairs, and national programs. Recently, Mexico pioneered the international paradigm of culinary recognition through UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. An evaluation of our different programs indicates that enlightening person experiences and readily availability are key to increasing the public's pro-active participation in biodiversity conservation.
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1 - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Jardín Botánico del Instituto de Biología, , Mexico, DF, 04510, MEXICO
Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Maryland Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Time: 1:45 PM