Researchers emphasize repertoires, innovative practices by women in colonias to prepare meals

September 14, 2012
Wesley R. Dean, Ph.D.

Wesley R. Dean, Ph.D.

Hispanic women living in U.S. colonias along the Texas-Mexico border face a high incidence of food insecurity and diet-related chronic disease as a result of their environment. In a recent article for the International Journal for Equity in Health, researchers from the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health emphasized the cultural repertoires and innovative practices employed by women residents of colonias to prepare meals under harsh conditions.

“These cultural repertoires expressed the creative agency of women colonia residents,” said Wesley R. Dean, Ph.D, assistant professor at the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health and research scientist in the Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities.

The cultural repertoire or cultural toolkit of the women in this study allowed them to cope with material hardship. It included reliance on inexpensive staple foods and dishes and conventional and innovative technological practices. For example, a microwave would be used conventionally to reheat food and against convention as secure storage for perishables.

Food-related practices were constrained by climate, women’s gender roles, limitations in neighborhood infrastructure, and economic and material resources. This research points to the importance of socioeconomic and structural factors such as a gender roles, economic poverty and material hardship as constraints on food choice and food-related behavior.

Additional TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health researchers include Joseph R. Sharkey, Ph.D, M.P.H, RD; Cassandra M. Johnson, M.S.P.H.; and Julie St. John, M.P.H.

The full article can be found at the International Journal for Equity in Health.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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