This is a low resolution video, recorded and sent by phone from the Upper Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. It is by Patricio Andi – who is a Kichwa community leader – on the pandemic. His comments reflect those of all my Napo Runa friends, teachers, connections and informants, and there is currently a revival of traditional medicine and food in response to the pandemic. This a natural response, which can also be found in other regions of the world. See for instance ‘Surviving COVID-19: The Neglected Remedy‘ by the Natural Food Barefoot Guide Writer’s Collective. [Find an excerpt at the bottom of the page!]
It does not have very good audio, but that should not detract from the otherwise clear and important message. It is provided for general interest and as part of a collection of reference material for an article in The Conversation titled ‘How indigenous people in the Amazon are coping with the coronavirus pandemic‘.
Patricio speaks in Spanish.
From the introduction to the ‘The first mini-Barefoot Guide – In the new Agroecology Series‘:
How best can people across Africa deal with COVID-19? How can those in densely populated urban areas or in remote rural villages best survive COVID-19 if they get infected?
There are several answers to these questions. But there is one that we must never forget: eat a variety of nutritious, wholesome food that is produced without heavy use of toxic sprays and has no added chemicals. Eat how most grandmothers taught their children to eat. Learn about and celebrate your traditional diet, while improving it wherever you can, using modern scientific knowledge. Eat a variety of food. Eat a balanced diet. Eat natural foods. It’s not complicated.
Of course, you must also do all the protective actions such as washing hands regularly, keeping a distance from people and wearing a cloth face mask. That is understood. But over and above all this is the critical importance of being healthy, of strengthening your body’s immune system to reduce the severity or serious effects of the virus and help it to heal should you catch it. Food is essential to our immune system and good health in general and not just any food, but naturally grown, safe, diverse and nutritious food. This has been largely neglected in all the information shared about COVID-19. In short, a variety of nutritious, natural food is medicine!
We cannot predict what will happen with this virus but whatever happens, we will be better off if we eat healthy food. A drive across Africa to eat natural, diverse, wholesome food, using our traditional diets as a basis for what we eat, will bring many benefits. Apart from helping to cope and recover better from COVID-19, it will also lower the number of new cases of many modern diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cancers.
Let us not forget that growing our own food and buying from local growers supports food and income security, strengthening the local economy. It also reduces plastic packaging waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and higher transport costs that usually come with imported food and the damage the plastic packing does to the environment.
COVID-19 is a wakeup call to us all. Let’s turn the tide away from over-processed foods that are often grown using chemicals and instead build a healthy norm, by eating a great variety of nutritious, locally produced natural foods, including indigenous crops and vegetables that we have often dropped from our diets.
We (the writers) have created this Barefoot Guide to help us all better survive COVID-19. It includes topics on what COVID-19 is, why food is the best medicine, and how to obtain and prepare the food to maintain its medicinal value and what you can do to promote this marvelous gift from nature. Enjoy and share with your families, neighbours, students, friends and colleagues. Good health!