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MISCELLANEOUS: Mexico, tortilla production: "The Fight to Save the Traditional Tortilla" ....

***Mexico, tortilla production....

* New York Times:  "The Fight to Save the Traditional Tortilla" - "In Mexico, this staple -- made with heirloom corn -- is under pressure from mass production and modernity, but small producers are pushing back." - From the NYT:

TLAXIACO, Mexico — Petra Cruz González wakes at 6 every morning to make some 400 tortillas by hand. Despite a few modern advancements, like an electric flour mill and a metal hand press, she still cooks them over a wood fire as she learned to do when she was 8 years old. Ms. González, 49, sells tortillas on the street and from her home. As the president of the Union de Palmeadoras in Tlaxiaco, which started in 1990 to organize this Oaxacan city’s handmade tortilla producers, she believes this is important work. The union’s 89 members (all but one a woman) are fighting to keep this millenniums-old tradition alive in the face of cheaper competitors.

The city’s 25 tortillería shops have severely cut into their sales, and Ms. González often has to work until 10 p.m. to sell all her tortillas. She charges 10 pesos (about 50 cents) for six, but this covers little more than her expenses. She often trades any remaining tortillas for food from other vendors. “The tortillerías just want to make more money — they’re not interested in what they sell,” Ms. González said. “We sell quality, not quantity.”

From the city to the countryside, the Mexican tortilla is in crisis. Consumption has dropped nearly 45 percent in the last 35 years, according to the nutritionist Julieta Ponce of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Xochimilco, to 125 pounds per person in 2016 from 225 pounds in 1982, as Mexicans eat more bread and fast food. Quality has suffered in the race for the cheapest tortilla; nearly half the supply is now made with industrially produced masa harina, or corn flour, like Maseca.

Cristina Barros, an author who investigates Mexican cuisine, says the perilous state of the tortilla is a red alert for Mexico’s wider social ills ......................