This book began with the public controversy about gm corn and
then took readers behind the debates to examine the everyday liveli-
hood struggles faced by rural Mexicans. In the southern Tehuacán
Valley residents have taken up an intergenerational, transnational
household strategy to weather over two decades of local environ-
mental problems, new policies, an influx of cheap corn imports, and
the e√ects of economic crisis. While an older generation relies on
the ‘‘recourse to corn,’’ younger residents, employed in valley ma-
quilas and in the United States, send part of their income home to
help maintain or establish a household in town. Together these
di√erent generations maintain, and in some cases advance, the eco-
nomic standing of the rural household; but this strategy is not
without its strains and stresses on individuals and families.
Despite the intentions and expectations of state policy, the Mexi-
can production of white maize increased after nafta. My research
confirmed what several other studies had found elsewhere in central
and southern Mexico—that maize cultivation is subsidized by o√-
farm income and at the same time provides a safety net for rural
producers as a dependable yet flexible crop used for subsistence
food and cash income (Barkin 2002; de Janvry, Gordillo de Anda,
and Sadoulet 1997; García-Barrios and García Barrios 1994; Nadal
2000b; Warman 2003 [1988]). Yet there has also been an interrup-
tion in the transmission of agricultural knowledge from one genera-
tion to the next, as young valley residents find work in maquilas and
by undertaking transnational migration. And despite the recourse to
corn, the di≈cult conditions for agriculture, the shortage of local
agricultural labor, and the lack of interest among young migrants
are not the sign of a revitalized countryside but of a deepened strug-
gle to stay afloat. State polices have helped to erode the produc-
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