Toxic agents scattered across our soils flow into water streams, air, food we consume, and the bodies of those who work the land. Global agricultural practices push farmers to forgo their soils’ long-term health in exchange for mass produced crops through the use of “modern” fertilizers and pesticides. As we now know, these chemicals often lead to serious diseases like cancer, disabilities and malformations. They also affect entire ecosystems resulting in pollinator decline and permanent soil erosion. In addition, they directly affect peasant families’ economies as expansion costs push them into ceaseless indebtedness and has even driven some of them to suicide.
The stories Maya Torres presents here are part of a larger project that looks into farmers, particularly female farmers, and their ecological and restorative soil practices in southern Ecuador. These soils are seen as life-giving organisms and they are part of peri-urban agricultural practices to protect the land, its agrobiodiversity, its ecosystems, and the life of the people that inhabit and care for them. Furthermore, we argue that these are resistance practices to a predatory capitalist agri-food industry where women are at a particular disadvantage.
The stories revealed in these "living soils" are visualized through soil chromatography images of three different soils. This imaging technique have been collaboratively developed with the women who nurture and care for these lands in an attempt to open up a political discussion around our food choices. They graphically illustrate various stages of soil detoxification.
Maya Torres, "Chroma 1: Toxic soil due to indiscriminate use of agrotoxins in hard maize monoculture. Calvas, Ecuador by Maya Torres", contributed by Maka Suarez, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 27 November 2018, accessed 4 December 2021.