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Keywords:

  • transnational migration;
  • lead poisoning;
  • imported foods;
  • Mexico;
  • health policy;
  • nostalgia;
  • nutrition

The Mexican State has known for decades that its rural ceramic producing communities have had to increase the lead content of their glaze in response to lower grade fuel supplies for their adobe kilns. This has resulted in increased Blood Lead Levels (BLLs) among their poorer populations who not only produce the ceramic but also depend on it as their primary source of cookware. Lead is a subtle crippler that produces many health maladies that mimic those resulting from poverty. The close correlation has allowed lead toxicity to be obscured and the state to defer or minimize its role in prevention and treatment. This same ceramic ware is used to produce foodstuffs that are sent to families across the globe as gifts from home and appears to be the greatest source of lead toxicity among Mexican migrant communities in California. This research reviews an interdisciplinary applied anthropology project that integrated the three communities who formed the triadic sphere of ceramic production, ceramic use, and food consumption across two nations to address the problem of lead in their lives from a local level.