‘We eat meat every day’: Ecology and economy of dietary change among Oaxacan migrants from Mexico to New Jersey

Peter Guarnaccia, Teresa Vivar, Anne C. Bellows, Gabriela V. Alcaraz

Publication Date: 01/01/2012

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the USA has experienced large-scale and continuing immigration from around the world, especially Latin America and, within Latin America, from Mexico. One dimension of these transnational processes is dietary change. In this paper, we qualitatively assess the effects of migration from Oaxaca, Mexico to central New Jersey on the ecology and economy of dietary patterns. We explore multiple factors at the micro and macro levels. Data come from focus groups held among Mexican migrants in New Jersey, and in Oaxaca among people from their sending communities. Economic constraints and lack of culturally appropriate foods are larger barriers to healthy eating than lack of knowledge about appropriate diets. We end with recommendations for nutrition education and interventions.