Portfolio of Danielle Warmka
This webpage documents Danielle Warmka's portfolio from Summer 2018.
Throughout my time in Mexico, I have noticed many different acts of kindness that are very similar to those that take place in the United States. Some of these acts of kindness are in the form of holding doors open, allowing the ladies to go first, always saying thank you and good morning, and I even spotted someone drop their wallet and another call out to her and pick it up for her. These are all very kind gestures that you would hope everyone possesses. However, there was another instance that really stood out to me and it was during our visit to the Mazahua Indigenous Campesino Community. Even though they are one of the poorest communities in Mexico, they opened their doors to our group and gave us a very delicious, nutritious, and filling meal.
It was during our walk around the small community that I was told they worked as hard as they needed to produce enough food to eat, but they did not worry as much about having extras to take to the market. They continued to tell us that they only ate meat about twice a week and for very special occasions. I understand having us come from the United States is extremely important to them, but I was not expecting the vast spread of food that we were given. We had two different kinds of meat, cactus fruit (napal), potatoes, quesadillas filled with either cheese or cheese and mushrooms, and homemade salsa! They also had a few options for us to drink. As I have noticed, our group can consume a lot of food and they still had some left over! To me that meant that they worked really hard to make this meal special for us and ensured that we would be satisfied. They also made it a point to inform us of how they cooked everything and showed us their variations of corn and explained the significance of each type because they all had an important role in their operation. I was very humbled and grateful for all of the hard work that they put in to welcome us the way that they did.
At the end of the visit was the icing on the cake. They were so happy to have us on their operation and being able to show us around that they were overcome with emotion. To me, it showed that what they have is extremely important to them and that they truly enjoy sharing their life with us. Fora meal that takes a lot more work and their resources, they couldn’t stop pushing us to eat more. They didn’t care about anything except for our satisfaction and it showed their undying selflessness. They did not need to use their food sources to feed us because we could have just stopped at a gas station or something, but I am very grateful for all of the work that they put in to make us feel welcome and it will stay with me for a long time. It also makes me want to pay it forward to make sure anyone who comes to my home in the future is treated the same way.
In the past year, I have really opened my eyes to the art of trade in North America that occurs between the United States and Mexico or Canada. Coming from a dairy farm, it is extremely important to know where our milk is going and to make sure there is a market for it. It is the same for every farm, but sometimes you forget about everyone else when your own farm is in jeopardy. This past year in May of 2017 my family was in the midst of the “dairy crisis” when our milk processor dropped multiple farms due to the cancellation of a major trade agreement with Canada. It was a very stressful month for my family as we tried desperately (along with 74 other farms) to be picked up by anther processor. In the last couple days of the month we were finally picked up by a processor, but our next (and ongoing) challenge was ever decreasing milk prices. This is why when the NAFTA trade agreements started becoming renegotiated, I became very worried that Mexico was going to decrease the amount of milk they were importing as well. This is why I was always hoping that they would actually take more milk from America because it should be even cheaper with the surplus that we have. What I didn’t realize until this trip was how it might affect the dairy farmers in Mexico.
It was our trip to the Benjamin Franklin Library with representatives from the Mexican U.S. Embassy (Mary Rose Parrish) that brought to my attention the different perspectives of the dairy trade between Mexico and the United States. When I was in this session I was thinking of all the good things they were doing by maximizing the export market of milk into Mexico because for me that means milk prices for U.S. farmers might go back up. However, at the end of the session, our Mexican trip mates shared their opinions on the dairy trade and told us how they are actually competing with American farmers for the Mexican market and find it very frustrating that they have to compete for a market in their own country. One of our trip mates, Alan Octavio Martin Gutierrez, expressed his frustration and questioned, “Why doesn’t our government spend a little more money and use our milk for the LACONSA program and help our dairy industry improve versus buying the cheap milk on the trade market?” (LACONSA is a program that brings milk into schools in poorer areas to improve the nutrition of the people who live there.)As much as it amazed me that I didn’t think of this in the first place, it really took me back and made me feel very selfish about the milk market that the United States has and blessed that my family has been able to be progressive and get to where we are today. Whereas in Mexico, it is very hard for them to expand and be progressive without the help of the government.
In conclusion I realized that yes, the United States is having a very depressing time for our dairy industry and having a market, but it is also important to think about the people in these other countries that are going through tough times as well and we are just making it worse by pushing our export products on them. By coming to Mexico, I have been able to realize that these people are just like me that want the very best for their farms and their cows and that they also struggle with keeping their farm running to support their families. I try to put myself in their shoes and realize how frustrating it would be to compete with a more developed country for my own country’s market. In the end, I also question why they don’t push more consumption of milk. Milk is an amazing source of nutrients and if more people in Mexico were to drink milk, they could increase their consumption and there for increase the market for their milk. We have mentioned that they don’t consume dairy or milk nearly as much as people in the U.S. do. I drink an average of three glasses of milk a day, so it is shocking to hear that the dairy farmers in Mexico don’t do the same to support their own businesses, but it may also just be part of their culture.