Fresh carrots and fruit licuados, or smoothies, are essential ingredients in the home of artisan Gloria Liliana Elizabeth Xiquin Sosa of Mercado Global’s Santa Maria cooperative. For Gloria and her family, good nutrition is not a simply a choice, but a necessity.

Many generations of Gloria's family suffer from disease related to poor nutrition. Both of her parents have Type 2 diabetes and her extended family, including her grandparents, uncles, and aunts are also diabetic. “When I was a child, our family’s eating habits were not good,” says Gloria. “We ate a lot of fried chicken, fries, soda. Things like that. Thankfully my siblings and I are healthy now, but looking at our family’s health history, it really makes you think about how important it is for us to eat well now.”

When Gloria’s son Roni was just sixteen months old, he contracted pneumonia, which led to an extended hospital stay. During this time, Roni also struggled with malnutrition, which only worsened his condition and brought about a whole new set of challenges for Gloria. Nursing Roni back to full health proved to be very difficult and highlighted the importance of eating healthy for the family.

From this challenging time, good nutrition has become an incredibly important part of their lives. As a partner artisan with Mercado Global, Gloria receives access to health and nutrition trainings. These trainings have helped her in her mission to improve her family’s eating habits and understand the potential dangers of consuming unhealthy foods. “Many times, I come home after a training and say to my mom, ‘Did you know about this recipe, or that this could be done this way? Let’s try it,’” says Gloria. “The trainings have also helped with feeding my son. Like a lot of kids, he’s picky about what foods he eats. Now, I’ve been learning new ways to make food that he’ll actually eat and enjoy.”

Increasingly, the family is finding that their diet is not only helping them to prevent diabetes and malnutrition, but also making them feel healthy, energetic, and happy. Gloria is often cooking new healthy recipes, and each family member is asking for more of their favorite nutritious ingredients.

In addition to this, Gloria has found that eating healthy has had other unexpected benefits. Mercado Global trainings on personal savings and budgeting, combined with the nutrition trainings, have made her realize that eating healthy is also a lot more cost-effective. “I’ve come to realize that certain unhealthy foods are so much more expensive,” says Gloria. “A can of Coca-Cola, for instance, is about 15 quetzales [about $2 USD], only lasts one serving, and is not at all healthy. If you instead buy a papaya, for instance, it costs only 8 quetzales [about $1 USD] and you get enough for three licuados.” This realization, Gloria says, has helped save her family a lot of money that they can put towards other important purchases.  

Overall, Gloria is extremely grateful for the time she has spent as part of the cooperative. In addition to all of the new information she has received through the Community-Based Education Program, she has also been able to expand upon her technical skills as a sewer and build her own small business. “As a single mother, I’m responsible for taking care of all of my son’s needs,” says Gloria. “Through Mercado Global, I have learned new techniques and have been able to sell my products and provide for my family.”