Consuming patterns: Exploring the role insects play in people's diets in Oaxaca, Mexico
Kayla Hurd is a 4th year PhD candidate in Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology under the direction of Dr. Vania Smith-Oka. She is a biocultural anthropologist with interests in food and nutrition, diet-related disease, health, political economy, and multispecies anthropology. She is currently an Eck Institute for Global Health Fellow and a Deans’ Fellow at Notre Dame. Hurd’s research examines how social, cultural, political, and economic factors often construct what is considered edible in areas around the world. As such, how we classify food can have implications for dietary patterns and overall health status.
In Oaxaca, roasted grasshoppers, or chapulines, are a protein-rich food and cultural symbol. Hurd investigates how the seasonal consumption of grasshoppers has nutritional implications for residents of Oaxaca, using a multi-disciplinary approach that combines ethnography, nutritional assessment, and chemical analyses of these grasshoppers. More broadly, she explores the entanglement of human-insect relationships through the context of health, political economy, and nutrition. Through an analysis of consumption patterns over the course of a year, she argues that grasshoppers are classified in myriad ways and have nutritional benefits that are particularly useful in the construction of balanced diets during the summer months in Oaxaca. As more processed foods are being implemented into the traditional/local diets of this area as a result of urbanization and globalization, it is important to understand how people’s daily calorie consumption is being impacted and how people use food as a way to cope with societal and cultural change, especially in light of the current pandemic. Thus, this pilot study addresses consumption patterns and categorizations of food in relation to health and seasonality and speaks to much larger forces at play throughout Mexico.
The Mexico Virtual Lecture Series is a recurring online event intended to highlight the deep connections between Notre Dame and Mexico. Each lecture focuses on the current work of a Notre Dame faculty member or researcher, covering topics that vary widely from medical research to the social sciences and arts and culture.
The series is intended for a general audience and can be viewed via Zoom. Pre-registration for the session is requested and the Zoom link will be made available once registration is received.
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Originally published at mexicocity.nd.edu.