How Mexican Food Revolutionized What We Eat


A new exhibit titled “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000,” which opened recently at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., illustrates how Mexican food helped revolutionize the way Americans eat.
The 3,800 sq. ft. exhibition shows 70 years of Latino food history such as a 1940 tortilla press and California vineyard tools. It also has a Bracero farm labor collection, according to a recent article on
Co-curator Steve Velasquez said the Bracero period involved two million Mexican workers picking crops in the Southwest in the 1950s. Changing technology and production led to a wider distribution of food and people exploring different foods, leading to the development of Tex-Mex cuisine.nTex-Mex food became wildly popular in the 1970s.
One section is called the “Mexican Food Revolution,” said Velasquez, and features a corn grinder and tortilla press from the Sanchez and Bermudez families who migrated in the 1940s-60’s and sold tortillas in local markets.
During the Chicano civil rights movement, activists started reclaiming their roots, including culinary heritage. This led to the farm worker labor movement, fighting for fair wages, and the organic movement. These movements are happening again, according to Velasquez.
“This exhibit just tells the stories about a small slice of Latinos, but we hope to get the public aware of the contributions and history of Latinos and food in U.S. history,” Velasquez said.