Celebrity Chefs and the Long View of Sustainable Agriculture in Yaxunah, Yucatán

Author(s): Chelsea Fisher

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Advancing Public Perceptions of Sustainability through Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The ejido (collective agricultural landholding) of Yaxunah, Yucatán, Mexico is known among archaeologists for its pre-Hispanic archaeological sites. But among a growing contingent of food aficionados, Yaxunah is known for its cooking. Having attracted the interest of celebrity chefs like René Redzepi (Noma, Copenhagen), David Chang (Momofuku, New York), and Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Chicago), Yaxunah has emerged as an epicenter of Yucatec Maya cuisine. Yet as the town’s culinary reputation expands, the accompanying demand for organic, sustainable, and so-called authentic food is changing the way Yaxuneros relate to their local environment. To understand these changes and what they mean for long-term sustainability, we can look to how Maya farmers have interacted with the Yaxunah landscape over the past 2000 years. I draw on archaeological data from the sites of Tzacauil and Yaxuná, as well as historical data from the 16th-20th centuries, to situate Yaxunah’s current incarnation as a culinary tourism destination into a larger historical narrative of human-environment interaction. I explore the potential of celebrity chefs and "foodie" culture for advancing the goals of agricultural sustainability among the public, both in Yucatán and on an international level – and consider the role archaeology might play in this process.

Cite this Record

Celebrity Chefs and the Long View of Sustainable Agriculture in Yaxunah, Yucatán. Chelsea Fisher. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450650)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25011