Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 607–620 | Cite as

“Si no comemos tortilla, no vivimos:” women, climate change, and food security in central Mexico

  • Beth A. Bee


In recent years, it has become clear that food security is intimately related to complex environmental, social, political, and economic issues. Even though several studies document the impact of climate on food production and agriculture, a growing segment of research examines how climate change impacts food systems and associated livelihoods. Furthermore, while women play a crucial role in providing food security for their families, little research exists that examines the nexus among gender relations, climate change, and household food security. This study investigates these relationships by asking: (1) how is the production and reproduction of knowledge about food security and climate change shaped by gender and lived experience, and (2) how does this knowledge influence attitudes and strategies for maintaining food security in a changing climate? Drawing on the results of research in two communities in central Mexico, I argue that women’s perceptions of and strategies for maintaining food security are derived from their socio-political, environmental, and economic contexts. This study contributes to both the growing literature on the gender dynamics of climate change, as well as debates about the role of bioengineered seeds in helping farmers to adapt to a changing climate.


Food security Knowledge Gender Climate change Adaptive capacity Mexico 



Centro de Desarrollo Agropecuario A.C. (Center for Agricultural Development)


El Niño Southern Oscillation


Genetically modified


Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (National Institute for Forest, Agriculture, and Fisheries Research)


Programa de Apoyos Directo al Campo (Program for Direct Subsidies to the Countryside)


Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food)


United States



I am indebted to the participants of this study and especially to Elizabeth Torrez Rodriguez and the late Teresa Martinez Delgado, without whom this work would not be possible. I am also grateful to Gabriela Cuevas García whom designed the maps of the study site and Frida Güiza Valverde who provided invaluable feedback on earlier drafts. I want to also thank Harvey James and the anonymous reviewers for their insights. Any errors or omissions are solely my responsibility. This research was funded through an American Association of University Women Fellowship, a Thomas F. Morgan Graduate Scholarship, a Supporting Women in Geography Fellowship, and through contributions from the College of Liberal Arts and Department of Geography at Pennsylvania State University.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA

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