CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 15 Classics - Page 114

Ancestral Corn is under siege in Mexico and to some , preserving it is of the utmost importance . GMO seeds are prohibited in MX , but whether it is due to illicit seed activities , lax enforcement in certain northern states , or the wind , they are slowly creeping in . People want to keep it alive and to them , protecting it isn ’ t simply about keeping out GMOs , but about preserving a way of life .
One of the people working to protect its integrity is Jonathan Barbieri , artist and distiller extraordinaire at Pierde Almas in Oaxaca . His art and activism go hand in hand as does his position as a distiller of whiskey . Not just any whiskey , but whiskey made from the ancestral corn of Oaxaca .
Thirty years ago , the then San Franciscan went on a trip to Oaxaca that was only supposed to last a few months . He would paint and ship his paintings back to his gallery , but somewhere along the way , he decided to stay in this inspirational locale . Over the years , the area inspired and intrigued him . An example would be his discovery of the local mezcal trade .
In the market , he would encounter women in interesting clothes selling mezcal on the sly . The women would produce the mezcal , cleverly concealed as a baby or produce from under their shawls and give a potential buyer a taste , filling up an old soda bottle or jug with the goods , once the sale was made . The reason for this clandestine behavior ? These scofflaws were on the alert for roving tax collectors on the hunt for illicit mezcal sales , who took little notice of a mother out buying produce .
Once introduced to this liquid culture , Jonathan became interested in trying all of the different types of mezcal , each type as varied as the person who made it . He began knocking on doors , tasting , and collecting the different types . He soon discovered that the good stuff never left the village .
Soon he decided to give it a whirl himself , having great success transferring his love of enjoying fine mezcal to becoming a maker of equal success .
So , how did Barbieri get from mezcal to whiskey ? Naturally , of course . The region he inhabits is known for its corn and it was a very natural step in the evolution of the distillery to use this regional specialty .
Jonathan lived in a small village in Oaxaca , little infrastructure . People were still using horse drawn carriages 20 years ago , it was commonplace . In fact , some are still in use today . And , corn was part of the local economy . Then things began to change .
Road conditions changed with the introduction of pavement to the region . Dusty manure polluting the air was greatly reduced and the overall quality of life began to improve . People who were once producers became consumers and it is somewhere in there that the ancestral corn of the region began to suffer .
In this region , corn was a safety net . You could sell it , use it to make tortillas and tamales , but soon many inhabitants went from buying the corn to buying the tortillas . This created difficulties in the local economy , whereas the money that was once spent in the community began to leave it via a non-local supply chain . What we ’ re talking about is the place where corn was introduced to humankind 6,500 years ago possibly going out of the corn business .
Barbieri decided that he wanted to do what he could to support the local industry and so , his Ancestral Corn Project was born . The way he and others see it , “ Corn is so much a part of life there that it would erase centuries old culture , from weaving to cuisine . That is why it is really important to me because I am very committed to Oaxaca .” This project is about so much more than whiskey or tortillas , but the preservation of the local culture .
The work of raising corn in Oaxaca is laborious , as machinery and oxen can ’ t access the rugged terrain of the farmland , so the corn is planted
Ancestral Corn is under siege in Mexico and to some, preserving it is of the utmost importance. GMO seeds are prohibited in MX, but whether it is due to illicit seed activ- ities, lax enforcement in certain northern states, or the wind, they are slowly creeping in. People want to keep it alive and to them, protecting it isn’t simply about keeping out GMOs, but about preserving a way of life. One of the people working to protect its integrity is Jonathan Barbieri, artist and dis- tiller extraordinaire at Pierde Almas in Oaxaca. His art and activism go hand in hand as does his position as a distiller of whiskey. Not just any whiskey, but whiskey made from the ancestral corn of Oaxaca. Thirty years ago, the then San Franciscan went on a trip to Oaxaca that was only supposed to last a few months. He would paint and ship his paintings back to his gallery, but somewhere along the way, he decided to stay in this inspi- rational locale. Over the years, the area inspired and intrigued him. An example would be his dis- covery of the local mezcal trade. In the market, he would encounter women in in- teresting clothes selling mezcal on the sly. The women would produce t 鍅ٕɱ䁍)́䁽ȁɽՍɽչȁѡ)͡ݱ́ٔѕѥȁхє)ͽѱȁ՜ݥѠѡ̰)ѡ݅́ͅQɕͽȁѡ̴́)ѥ٥Q͔͍́ݕɔѡ)ȁɽ٥хѽ́ѡչЁȁ)鍅̰ͅݡѽѱѥѡ)Ё她ɽՍ)=ɽՍѼѡ́եձɔ)ѡ)ѕɕѕ她ѡɕ)́鍅́مɥ́ѡȴ)ͽݡи!̰)хѥѥѡɕЁ̸!)ͽ͍ٕɕѡЁѡՙٕȁ)ѡ٥)MѼٔЁݡɰ͕ش)ɕЁՍ́Ʌ͙ɥ́ٔ)鍅ѼȁՅ)Ս̸)M܁ ɉɤЁɽ鍅Ѽݡ̴)9Ʌ䰁͔Qɕ)́ݸȁ́ɸЁٕ݅́䁹Ʌ)ѕѡٽѥѡѥѼ͔ѡ)ɕ))ѡٕ͵٥=ᅍд)ѱɅՍɔAݕɔѥ͔ͥ)Ʌݸɥ̀啅́Ё݅́)%аͽɔѥ͔ѽ丁)ɸ݅́Ёѡ丁Qѡ)Ѽ)Iѥ́ݥѠѡɽՍѥ)ٕЁѼѡɕ䁵ɔ)ѥѡȁ݅́ɕѱɕՍѡٕȴ)Յ䁽ѼɽٔAݡ)ݕɔɽՍ́յ́)́ͽݡɔѡɔѡЁѡɅɸ)ѡɕѼՙȸ)%ѡ́ɕɸ݅́ͅ䁹иeԁձ)͕а͔ЁѼѽѥ́х̰)ͽ䁥х́ݕЁɽ她ѡ)ɸѼ她ѡѽѥ̸Q́ɕѕ)ձѥ́ѡ䰁ݡɕ́ѡ)ѡЁ݅́Ёѡչ䁉Ѽ)ٔЁ٥䁍]Ёݗeɔ)хЁ́ѡݡɔɸ݅́ɼ)ՍѼյذ啅́ͥ)Ёѡɸ̸ͥ) ɉɤѡЁ݅ѕѼݡЁ)ձѼЁѡ䁅ͼ)Ʌ ɸAɽЁ݅́ɸQ݅䁡)ѡ͕́аq ɸ́ͼՍЁ)ѡɔѡЁЁݽձɅ͔ɥ́ձɔ)ɽݕ٥ѼեͥQЁ́ݡ䁥Ё́ɕ)хЁѼ͔$ٕ䁍ѕ)Ѽ=ᅍtQ́ɽЁ́ЁͼՍɔ)ѡݡͭ䁽ȁѽѥ̰Ёѡɕ͕مѥ)ѡձɔ)QݽɬɅͥɸ=ᅍ́ɥ̰)́䁅ᕸeЁ́ѡ՝)ѕɅѡɵͼѡɸ́ѕ