Milpa

Reading Charles Mann 1491, also have his 1493 that goes into more detail about the effects of pre Columbian American crops on the world. He quotes H Garrison Wilkes. The Milpa ” is one of the most successful human inventions ever created”. granta 2005 p198

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milpa 

 

“Charles C. Mann described milpa agriculture as follows, in 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus:[2]

“A milpa is a field, usually but not always recently cleared, in which farmers plant a dozen crops at once including maizeavocados, multiple varieties of squashand beanmelontomatoeschilissweet potatojícamaamaranth, and mucana…. Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally complementary. Maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the body needs to make proteins and niacin;…. Beans have both lysine and tryptophan…. Squashes, for their part, provide an array of vitaminsavocadosfats. The milpa, in the estimation of H. Garrison Wilkes, a maize researcher at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, “is one of the most successful human inventions ever created.”[2]

The concept of milpa is a sociocultural construct rather than simply a system of agriculture. It involves complex interactions and relationships between farmers, as well as distinct personal relationships with both the crops and land. For example, it has been noted that “the making of milpa is the central, most sacred act, one which binds together the family, the community, the universe…[it] forms the core institution of Indian society in Mesoamerica and its religious and social importance often appear to exceed its nutritional and economic importance.”[3]

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