Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies, and the Destruction of Mexico

Mexican cuisine has emerged as a paradox of globalization. Food enthusiasts throughout the world celebrate the humble taco at the same time that Mexicans are eating fewer tortillas and more processed food. Today Mexico is experiencing an epidemic of diet-related chronic illness. The precipitous rise of obesity and diabetes—attributed to changes in the Mexican diet—has resulted in a public health emergency.

In her gripping new book, Alyshia Gálvez exposes how changes in policy following implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have fundamentally altered one of the most basic elements of life in Mexico—food. Mexicans are now faced with a food system that favors industrial and imported food over subsistence agriculture, development over sustainability, free markets over social welfare, and ideologies of individual self-care over public health. Trade agreements have resulted in unintended consequences for people’s everyday lives.

Praise for Eating NAFTA

“Gálvez has produced a much-needed—and highly teachable—resource for activists, teachers, and scholars. Her groundbreaking study reframes discussions of food justice, food systems, and Mexican health by situating them within the economic and political realities of NAFTA, neoliberalism, and globalization.”

— Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel, coauthors of Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing

“At a time when Mexican food in the United States is more popular than ever, even as Mexicans face increased discrimination, a book like this is essential to show how we got here. Gripping, smart, and essential.”

— Gustavo Arellano, author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America

About the Author

Alyshia Gálvez is Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at Lehman College of the City University of New York. She is the author of Guadalupe in New York: Devotion and the Struggle for Citizenship Rights among Mexican Immigrants and Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers: Mexican Women, Public Prenatal Care, and the Birth-weight Paradox.

Additional Resources

“Eating NAFTA: A Conversation with Alyshia Gálvez” abridged transcript of our Real Food Reads interview, Medium, February 25, 2019

“The NAFTA Diet” Alyshia speaks with Maria Hinojosa of NPR’s Latino USA, February 5, 2019

“From Diabetes to Displacement: How NAFTA Disrupted Mexican Agriculture, Food, and Health” The New Food Economy, September 26, 2018

“At a Beloved Mexican Restaurant in the Bronx, an Arrest Sparks Outrage” by Alyshia Gálvez, Civil Eats, January 18, 2019