Last week, we had the honor of hosting Emmy-nominated host of Top Chef, award-winning author, and advocate for women’s health, Padma Lakshmi, at our headquarters in Panajachel, Guatemala. The Love, Loss, and What we Ate author joined us with her daughter for five days of adventure and insight into our work to educate and empower women in the highlands of Guatemala.

The trip provided opportunities for cultural exchange, but also a chance for the pair to learn more about the barriers our artisans face in the areas of nutrition and women’s health and for Padma to share her experience and knowledge on these topics.

During our first community visit to San Andres Semetabaj, Padma sat in on a women’s health training focused on cervical cancer awareness and prevention. It was a beautiful mix of Spanish, English, and Kakchiquel, the indigenous language of this cooperative, spoken around the room as the Co-Founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America engaged with the women on their personal experiences and shared her knowledge on the importance of early-detection.

On the third day of the trip, we went to a partner cooperative in the community of San Jorge to attend a training focused on malnutrition. The artisans learned the difference between undernutrition and malnutrition, the importance of a balanced diet, and the dangers of popular sugary drinks and food for children, as Padma provided her personal tips for incorporating healthier foods into your diet. With Guatemala having the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world, receiving the education and resources necessary to lead a healthier lifestyle is crucial for our artisans.

Later, the group bridged the gap between language and culture through a love of cooking as Padma and her daughter showed the artisans how to make pickled peppers, straight from Padma’s recent memoir, while the artisans taught the mother-daughter duo how to make traditional corn tortillas.

An advocate for women’s health around the world, we truly admire Padma and her work to empower women to lead healthier lifestyles and were honored for her to experience the Mercado Global model at work.

For more photos of Padma’s trip, check out our Facebook album here.