Reflecting on several years of research in the Mexican countryside and the flow of foods into packing and brokers’ shipping houses in Nogales, Ariz., Jeffrey M. Banister, assistant research social scientist at the Southwest Center and the school of geography and development, said, “It is nearly impossible to talk about agricultural production and consumption in either Mexico or the United States as an isolated or discrete processes. Our need to eat ties us together, just as it does environments and the forces shaping them. The result of our research, the 'Hungry for Change' report, challenges the borders – political, cultural, economic – that impede food security and provides a richly detailed analysis of their effects on our ability to eat well.” 

Among the new findings found in "Hungry for Change" are:

• Enormous quantities of food flow both ways across the border, and considerable quantities of fresh water and fossil fuel are embedded in every bite eaten by desert dwellers in both countries.

• Roughly 60 percent of all fresh produce eaten in the U.S. during the winter and spring months is grown in northern Mexico, but its production and transportation can be easily disrupted by climatic disasters, by social conflicts or by policy shifts.

• While per capita income in the U.S. is 5.6 times greater than that in Mexico, these national trends do not reflect realities closer to the border. U.S. border counties suffer poverty levels twice as high as the country as a whole and income in Mexico’s border states is 75 percent higher in the Republic as a whole.

• Mexico’s food economy has become increasingly dominated by big-box grocery chains owned or franchised by American corporations, and the nutritional, cultural and economic consequences of this shift are being hotly debated.

Said Maribel Alvarez, associate research social scientist and associate research professor at the Southwest Center and the UA department of English: "When we ignore the ways that our tomatoes, bell peppers and melons entangle us with our neighbors, we are also ignoring the ways in which our stories, affections, memories and identities also overlap. There is a grassroots movement afoot to bring to light these dynamics and to hopefully create change in the future of our shared food system."