Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems


the many dimensions of culture,
diversity and environment for nutrition and health

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment

Rome 2009


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Why are Indigenous Peoples’ food systems important and
why do they need documentation?

Chapter 1
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Back to the future: using traditional food and knowledge
to promote a healthy future among Inuit

Chapter 2
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The Nuxalk food and nutrition program,
Coastal British Columbia, Canada: 1981–2006

Chapter 3
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Gwich’in traditional food for health: Phase 1

Chapter 4
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Traditional food system of an Awajun community in Peru

Chapter 5
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Ingano traditional food and health: Phase 1, 2004–2005

Chapter 6
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Documentation of the traditional food system of Pohnpei

Chapter 7
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Traditional food systems of Indigenous Peoples:
the Ainu in the Saru River Region, Japan

Chapter 8
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Thailand: food system and nutritional status of indigenous children
in a Karen community

Chapter 9
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Traditional food system of Dalit in Zaheerabad Region,
Medak District, Andhra Pradesh, India

Chapter 10
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The Bhil food system: links to food security, nutrition and health

Chapter 11
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The Maasai food system and food and nutrition security

Chapter 12
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The Igbo traditional food system documented in four states
in Southern Nigeria

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Species Index
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Indigenous Peoples’ food systems species by scientific name

Subject Index
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Photographic section
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Food systems of Indigenous Peoples who retain connection to long-evolved cultures and patterns of living in local ecosystems present a treasure of knowledge that contributes to well-being and health, and can benefit all humankind. This book seeks to define and describe the diversity in food system use, nutrition and health in 12 rural case studies of Indigenous Peoples in different parts of the world as a window to global Indigenous Peoples’ circumstances. A procedure for documenting Indigenous Peoples’ food systems was developed by researchers working with the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE) at McGill University, Canada, and the FAO. The procedure was adapted and applied in case studies located in Canada, Japan, Peru, India, Nigeria, Colombia, Thailand, Kenya, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The collective intent of this documentation is to show the inherent strengths of the local traditional food systems, how people think about and use these foods, the influx of industrial and purchased food, and the circumstances of the nutrition transition in indigenous communities. This research was completed with both qualitative and quantitative methods by Indigenous Peoples and their academic partners in the context of the second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, and the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted in 2007 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

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© FAO 2009
ISBN 978-92-5-106071-1