An International interdisciplinary approach to reducing lead contamination in traditional foods among Mexican migrants in the US and communities of origin: The contributions of epidemiology, anthropology, and community development.


Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, Department of Anthropology
 Rank at time of award: Associate Professor



The goal for the on-going work and the conferences will be to develop a framework to analyze, understand, and act upon such questions and issues as: 
Where lead contamination in traditional foods comes from and which sources pose the greatest risk;
What are the routes through which contaminated foods move with migrants as they cross the US border and settle in coastal California among other regions?;
Determine the levels of the threat lead contamination poses to origin populations in Mexico and migrant populations in the US (and particularly to children in both settings) and what protective factors might be present that can be harnessed to limit the extent of the lead poisoning.;
How to best mitigate contamination and develop alternative food preparation models without threatening local cultural practices and how best to develop health communication strategies within binational communities in the US. With the potential of extending beyond this particular phase?;
How to integrate local public health department objectives on prevention of childhood lead poisoning in addressing traditional foods as a source of lead poisoning?
Our strength in this project comes from our shared interests and unique backgrounds and the different methodologies we bring to our investigations and educational work.  Using anthropology, biology, chemistry, food and population health science, as well as education and community development, we will be able to define the importance of traditional foods, the avenues through which lead contamination occurs and cultural sensitive responses to contamination that should build toward a healthier future for Mexicans, Mexican migrants and their children.


Publications resulting from this seed grant

2009. Cohen, Jeffrey H, ND Mata Sánchez and F Montiel-Ishino. Chapulines and Food Choices in Rural Oaxaca. Gastronomica, volume 9(1): 61-65.