Contribution of Wild Foods to Diet, Food Security, and Cultural Values Amidst Climate Change

  • Erin Smith Montana State University
  • Selena Ahmed Montana State University https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5779-0697
  • Virgil Dupuis Salish Kootenai College
  • MaryAnn Running Crane Salish Kootenai College
  • Margaret Eggers Montana State University
  • Mike Pierre Flathead Indian Reservation
  • Kenneth Flagg Montana State University
  • Carmen Byker Shanks Montana State University https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9030-9938
Keywords: Wild Foods, Food Environment, Food Security, Food Systems, Climate Change, Native American, Indigenous, Traditional Foods

Abstract

Wild foods are recognized to contribute to diet and food security through enhancing the availability of local, diverse, and nonmarket food sources. We investigated the contribution of wild foods to diet, food security, and cultural identity in a Native American[1] community in the context of climate change. Structured interviews were conducted with low-income residents of the Flathead Indian Reser­vation[2] in Northwestern Montana who participate in the federal Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, also known by participants as ‘Commodities.’ Responses to structured questions were analyzed for frequency, and open-ended responses were coded and analyzed to identify prevalent themes. Our analysis indicated that half of participants were food insecure. Approximately 28% of participants engaged in at least one wild food procurement activity, including hunting, fishing, and harvesting. On average, participants who engaged in one or more wild food procure­ment activities were more food secure than those who did not. Results highlight the multidimen­sional valuation of wild foods by participants including taste, freshness, nutritional quality, being a traditional community practice, and providing a sense of self-sufficiency. Climate change is per­ceived by participants to be adversely impacting wild food systems due to increased variability in seasonality and precipitation and increased inci­dences of wild fire. Findings point to the need for community-based strategies to strengthen wild food knowledge toward enhancing food sover­eignty in Native American communities, in the context of climate change.

[1] The term ‘Native American’ was determined to be the preferred term for referencing the Native American community in this study, based on consultation from our community advisory board.

[2] The term ‘Flathead Indian Reservation’ was determined to be the preferred term for referencing the location in which this study was held, based on consultation from our community advisory board.

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Author Biographies

Erin Smith, Montana State University

The Food & Health Lab, Sustainable Food Systems Program, Department of Health & Human Development

Selena Ahmed, Montana State University

The Food & Health Lab

Virgil Dupuis, Salish Kootenai College

Extension Office

MaryAnn Running Crane, Salish Kootenai College

Extension Office

Margaret Eggers, Montana State University

Center for Biofilm Engineering

Mike Pierre, Flathead Indian Reservation

Food Distribution Program

Kenneth Flagg, Montana State University

Statistical Consulting and Research Services, Department of Mathematical Sciences

Carmen Byker Shanks, Montana State University

The Food & Health Lab, Sustainable Food Systems Program, Department of Health & Human Development

Published
2019-11-22
How to Cite
Smith, E., Ahmed, S., Dupuis, V., Running Crane, M., Eggers, M., Pierre, M., Flagg, K., & Byker Shanks, C. (2019). Contribution of Wild Foods to Diet, Food Security, and Cultural Values Amidst Climate Change. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(B), 1-24. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2019.09B.011
Section
Indigenous Food Sovereignty Peer-Reviewed Papers