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Cultural convention contributes to world hunger?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 104
Location: North Coast Dominican Republic
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On my project in the Dominican Republic, I have had some conflict with would-be helpful locals. Ground cherry (Physocarpus peruvianus a.k.a. goldenbverry, picchuberry) is an important fruit to me; to them, it is a weed to be eradicated. The same is true of such nutritious greens as green amaranth (Amaranthus viridis) and purslane (Portulaca oleracea). When I try to explain about the ground cherry -- "es buen fruta" -- they give me a look that may be either confused or pitying, I'm not sure which. I hesitate to accept any help, because I am afraid, for example, that they might uproot my carefully tended tomatillos (Physocarpus ixocarpa) because they are not accustomed to that fruit, and its plants look almost exactly like those of ground cherry.

My frustration with this causes me to wonder... I know world hunger is a complex issue without simple causes or solutions, but I can't help wondering how many people have gone hungry, right next to nutritious food that cultural convention prevented them from recognizing as such?
 
pollinator
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I eat all kinds if plants, but I don't eat seabugs,aka shellfish.
If it's an invertebrate,I don't want to eat it.

No sense to it, I just am repulsed by the thought.
Organ meat? Same thing.
Except, I've eaten plenty of sausage and hot dogs in my time,meaning I have eaten both bugs and organ meat.

I guess it's all about perception.

Feed your neighbors ground cherry desserts and they might see things differently.

Just don't tell them what's in it ahead of time.
 
Posts: 156
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Jason Hernandez wrote:
My frustration with this causes me to wonder... I know world hunger is a complex issue without simple causes or solutions, but I can't help wondering how many people have gone hungry, right next to nutritious food that cultural convention prevented them from recognizing as such?



I just got to ask....do you believe that guinea pigs are just cute pets for children?  What is your feeling about snakes? bunny rabbits?
I have some recipes for red wiggler compost worms....are you interested?
 
Jason Hernandez
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R Jay wrote:

Jason Hernandez wrote:
My frustration with this causes me to wonder... I know world hunger is a complex issue without simple causes or solutions, but I can't help wondering how many people have gone hungry, right next to nutritious food that cultural convention prevented them from recognizing as such?



I just got to ask....do you believe that guinea pigs are just cute pets for children?  What is your feeling about snakes? bunny rabbits?
I have some recipes for red wiggler compost worms....are you interested?


I am a vegetarian. However, before going vegetarian -- and before Taiwan outlawed it -- I did taste dog meat in Taiwan, and it was better than most of the meats people eat in the West.
 
gardener
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Arctic and boreal explorers died of scurvy next to forests of vitamin C rich spruce and pine, and it is said that the main cause of the demise of the Viking settlements in Greenland was their refusal to adopt the native Inuit diet when the climate shifted slightly to not favor their Northern European agrarian lifestyle.  This sort of thing happens all the time.  

Sometimes it's cultural fear, and sometimes its well founded on the culture's experience of poisons.  It is my understanding that it is widely thought that pre-colonial contact many North American indigenous groups did not utilize native fungi as a regular part of their diet, even though it has been shown that some of these fungi that they did not utilize were nutrient dense and are prized by other cultures.

I once read an article about the local primates (I think chimpanzees) having a wild diet that had many more food sources than the local indigenous African agrarian population in the same near region who grew crops and kept livestock.  Who is prone to famine? Those who have gone the opposite direction from the natural diversity that surrounds them, methinks.        
 
R Jay
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The question of which groups of people that is more prone to famine--the group that forages or the group that
is agrarian--growing their own fruits and vegetables--is an interesting one.

It was estimated that the population of North America was as high as 18 million pre-1490.  This population was
mostly nomadic.  A generalization can be made that the coastal inhabitants relied on salmon, the northern
inhabitants relied on caribou, and the central inhabitants relied on buffalo.

North America has an area of 9.4 million square miles.  A population density of 2 people per square mile.
A group of 40 people could survive in a core area of 10 square miles foraging.  

The population of North America by 1900 was approx. 106 million...12 people per sq mile....1200 people
in 100 sq miles....an area 10 miles by 10 miles in size.

It is pretty unlikely 1200 people could effectively forage in an area that size.  As a nomadic society increases
in population, it appears that there is a need to change into an an agrarian society in order to thrive.

I guess my point is : To compare the two societies is like comparing apples to oranges.

It is interesting to note that in the 1400's, the agrarian society of Europe lost 60% of it's population to the
bubonic plague.

The  population density of North America was low in the 1500's.  As was said before,it was a foraging, nomadic
culture. Smallpox, flu, and other Eurasion diseases wiped out an estimated 90% of the native people by
the mid 1700's.

It appears that lack of immunity, and not population density, is the main ingredient for a disease to successfully
become a epidemic.  To compare the two societies for population density or method of food gathering is also
incorrect in this instance.

 
Posts: 227
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The history of exploration in Australia is filled with examples of hardship and death simply because the predominantly European explorers did not know which plants and animals were edible.

They'd trample over and through bush that would've stopped scurvy and beriberi, oblivious of its importance in the native aboriginal diet. A little homework and an open mind would've made it so much easier.

For example: they took their Eurocentric idea of four seasons to explain weather and plant/animal availability, but the local climate conditions usually make 6 or more identified seasons.

It's a matter of whether people are willing to open their minds to new things and rethinking old, often ingrained beliefs.

As William suggested, rework the product into something they like - it's in the selling!😉



 
R Jay
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F Agricola wrote:It's a matter of whether people are willing to open their minds to new things and rethinking old, often ingrained beliefs.
As William suggested, rework the product into something they like - it's in the selling!😉



You mean like chocolate-coated ants?

Grilled guinea pig don't look too bad.
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F Agricola
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R Jay wrote:

F Agricola wrote:It's a matter of whether people are willing to open their minds to new things and rethinking old, often ingrained beliefs.
As William suggested, rework the product into something they like - it's in the selling!😉



You mean like chocolate-coated ants?

Grilled guinea pig don't look too bad.




I've eaten worse things! Is that Spam or some weird vegan version of a cooked Guinea Pig? Everything tastes better with tomato sauce and a few beers, eh?!
 
R Jay
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Kind of an interesting story....

A Little Rock, Arkansa, organization called Heifer International, went down to Peru,Ecuador, and Guatemala
to promote the raising of guinea pigs rather than cattle.  Guinea pigs are twice as efficient as cattle to
convert hay and veggie scraps into meat--4 lbs in compared to 8 lbs in for every pound of meat.  They
arranged to supply interested families 1 male and 7 females.  Getting the herd up to 2 males and 20 females
don't take too long, and is enough to feed a family of 6.

The same could be said of having rabbits. Two males and 4 females..feed conversion versus meat
production?...2 lbs compared to almost 6 lbs live weight in about the same amount of time ?

A restaurant in Queens of NY city sells grilled "cuy" once a month.

For $17.00, you get a half...cut down the middle and served with a front leg,back,an eye,
an ear, and nostril.

Supposedly the nose,ears, and "fingers" are the tastiest parts.  Taste has been described
as something between pork and rabbit.

One thing that interested me was raising escargot.

Fencing is minimal and even if the "herd" stampedes, it is not going to go far.  A couple steps
and you would be able to "head them off at the pass".

Considering what they normally eat,like other animals,the snails have to be "finished" before
buchering?? harvesting??

Garden slugs are best left to feed your pet reptile, or flock of ducks.  Seems they can possibly
carry a form of menningitis....

Compost worms just need to be "finished" by immersing them in water so that all the "grit" passes
thru their bodies.  Lots of protein, but has a taste and consistancy of tofu.

Tofu....aka vegetarian spam...a GMO soy product...so much for "healthy' vegetarians....


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gardener
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hau Jason, I understand your frustration, and yes regional taboos and traditions do come into play when trying to change anything from the "norm" time and technique are the keys of success.

When people go to a part of the world they are not familiar with in any way, they are bound to have issues from their bodies natural defense mechanisms, one of which is revulsion.
Because humans are social animals, they learn the social conventions of the environment they are brought up in, and those are powerful and long lasting, so if you are raise being told certain food items are "No good for you" or "just nasty weeds", that is what your opinion will be.

I know people who would starve before they would eat many of the items I know as taste treats, but even I have a list of "Only to survive and even then as a last resort" foods.

Look at the tomato for a grand example, on turtle island (North America) my people ate tomatoes and consider them great food. The invaders (Europeans) took them back to their home country and people avoided them, thinking them poisonous since they are a nightshade family member.
It took many years for the Europeans to embrace the goodness of tomatoes.

I know many people who will not eat; Snake, turtle, grasshopper, bull testicles, liver, caviar, cat, dog, pony (horse), and many other items that are considered delicacies in many parts of the world.

Culture determines most of how people see things, until they try the food, if they aren't used to it, they will be repulsed by it because their brain is saying DANGER, THAT MIGHT KILL YOU.

Redhawk
 
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Arctic and boreal explorers died of scurvy next to forests of vitamin C rich spruce and pine, and it is said that the main cause of the demise of the Viking settlements in Greenland was their refusal to adopt the native Inuit diet when the climate shifted slightly to not favor their Northern European agrarian lifestyle.  This sort of thing happens all the time.



In regards to the Inuit diet in particular, it's very high in blubber. Inuit are adapted to have awesome gallbladders that can digest massive amounts of fat. A non-Inuit would not be able to survive on an Inuit diet. I'm pretty sure modern Scandinavians do eat fermented fish, though. I think this is an Inuit thing.

When my friend came back from volunteering in Haiti, he was very frustrated and angry with the state of the culture there. People literally starving to death while the trees are loaded with edible fruit and feral goats wander the landscape. People there will not eat goats because there's a superstition that the goats are people transformed into goats by witchcraft.

I have also encountered adults here who are terrified of vegetables and refuse to eat them. It's frustrating to me. I'm also frustrated with my own lack of foraging knowledge. If I go for a walk in the woods and can't identify enough wild plants to make a meal for myself, I feel like I'm a hopeless human that couldn't possibly survive in the wild. I'm not sure why we, as humans, need so much knowledge to survive in comparison to other mammals, that mostly seem to do fine just going by instinct. I'm pretty sure the deer don't carry around a wild edibles identification guide.
 
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I abhore lambs quarter which is a huge shame since I can grow that stuff like a champ. To me, it's the very worst weed because it is sooooooooooooooo good at growing. I had someone over who was thrilled to see my giant lambs quarter plants. She said she'd planted that very same species. I told her to take it all. We just don't like the taste and haven't tried to eat it barely at all. Plus, as I said it grows HUGE here and it's so prolific that it's just the worst imo.

My husband and I were talking about the average American diet though. Why we eat some things and not others. I told him we were trained like that. It's hard to change an attitude toward food we've been taught since infancy.
 
elle sagenev
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Jason Hernandez wrote:

R Jay wrote:

Jason Hernandez wrote:
My frustration with this causes me to wonder... I know world hunger is a complex issue without simple causes or solutions, but I can't help wondering how many people have gone hungry, right next to nutritious food that cultural convention prevented them from recognizing as such?



I just got to ask....do you believe that guinea pigs are just cute pets for children?  What is your feeling about snakes? bunny rabbits?
I have some recipes for red wiggler compost worms....are you interested?


I am a vegetarian. However, before going vegetarian -- and before Taiwan outlawed it -- I did taste dog meat in Taiwan, and it was better than most of the meats people eat in the West.



I tried horse in Japan. It was VERY tough.

I live in Wyoming. Pretty much no water around me. I hate the taste of most things raised in water. Weird right.
 
Posts: 109
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My farming neighbour, devouring escargot and putting smelly camembert in the window sill until liquidized and "ripe", to enjoy as a drink, tells me my tomatillos smell inedible. I guess there is a lot at play ,like already mentioned cultural conditioning, many people are quite spoiled, we have the luxury of remaining conservative in what we tell ourselves to what is edible or tasty and what not. I notice that my taste has moved toward accepting and liking more bitter tastes, which include a lot of wild edibles that happen to be extremely healthy, densely packed with nutrients, bitter wild edibles. I put them in a salad with a sweet tasting apple or other ripe fruit and nuts, berries and some edible flowers. People love my salads, which are part of me losing 17 kg/37 pounds/2.6 stone in a short time.
As beerlovers worldwide move toward more bitter tasting locally produces microbrewed beers, there is an opening there, to move in with wild edibles, slow cooking, local herbs. I know i am changing people's ideas toward food, and i will get that farmer to change his one day, but it's going to take ,like already mentioned above, good recipes and practice and time.
Another subject altogether is the third world and world hunger, like Sarah mentioned , hungry Haitians not eating food before their eyes, i've heard this story by a client of mine, a black man from Suriname who went to Africa, Gambia to be more precise, and showed poor people edible vegetables that grew wild, they were not interested to his chagrin. I guess people are so disillusioned there and have such a defeatist attitude, it's hard for us to wrap our heads around. It's what being depressed is i guess, not being able to see that all the good in baby steps that add up in the long run.
Keep pioneering everybody!    
 
Bryant RedHawk
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For people to get past the Revulsion mechanism it usually takes some severe set of circumstances (if your a child it can be the dreaded "I dare you to" that will force one to attempt to get past that gag reflex) to try something not accepted in that culture as good to eat.

When I was in the US Navy special warfare command we regularly trained in survival, I learned that many items and animals I would have avoided at all cost were actually fairly good as food, and that meant you would be able to complete the mission.
Over the years I tried many foods that most Americans would run away from, recently that fellow Andrew Zimmeran made a TV show (Bizarre Foods) exposing viewers to lots of foods around the world, showing that every culture has items that we would never think about eating.

I've since adopted the Try it twice method for new foods, If I can't get it down after two attempts, there will never be a third trial.
 
pollinator
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Oh this is a favorite pet peeve of mine, having lived in rural western Kenya for almost 8 years now.  Most folks here have ditched their indigenous diets for a Western one.  Maize has become the staple food, even though it is not particularly well suited to the conditions.  I came here with an expensive selection of heirloom american fruit and vegetable seeds... And my first garden was an epic failure.  So I started researching indigenous foods. I experimented with eating and growing.  I sourced seeds from old ladies in the village... And no surprise, the native crops were easy to grow and well adapted.  Example: The local squash is not susceptible to fruitflies or powdery mildew, but every variety of summer or winter squash I imported was destroyed.  I also started researching the wild edibles: mushrooms, greens, fruits.  I was so excited because my eyes were open to the huge abundance.  There was absolutely no reason for locals to suffer from hunger and malnutrition.  But when presented with these nutritious foods, locals scorned them.  Guavas for example grow in wild abundance along many back roads and hedges.  But that's "kids food".  Other things were scorned as " grandmothers' food."  Or "poor peoples food.". (As if they weren't poor people!). The cultural attitude is that modern sophisticated people eat western foods, and only backwards ignorant people ate indigenous foods.  In 5 years time I had built up a farm that was able to meet all the caloric and nutritional needs for a family of six and a part time employee, and a half dozen hungry kids that were always hanging around.  I bought sugar, cooking fat and salt from the supermarket.  But if I'd been ambitious enough to render animal fats and or plant oil palms, if I had the press for sugarcane or a few top bar hives...the only thing I couldnt produce was salt.  I knew nobody wanted to listen to a know-it-all american, but I thought in time if they saw abundance demonstrated, they might be interested.  But nope.  Because my garden was green during the annual drought I was accused of witchcraft.  And those same people would show up at my gate begging for food or money during famine months.  

Like another mentioned, I can't hire workers, because they flat out refuse to follow directions.  They pull out edibles as weeds (like amaranth), they sweep away mulch because its "making the soil dirty.", and they plow under anything they dont recognize as valuable.  They stubbornly refuse to consider new (or very old) ideas.  They want modern chemical agriculture and store bought white bread.

I have been playing with the idea of community dinners built around indigenous foods, in a gradual subtle way.  Unfamiliar veggies mixed in familiar ones.  Bambura groundnut mixed in the beans.  Sweet potatoes in the mandazi and millet, sorghum and casava mixed in the maize for ugali.  Bananas cooked in savory meat dishes and taro cut with Irish potatoes.  None of these foods are " new", they've just fallen out of fashion for two generations.  I would love to introduce young people to the tasty possibilities.

Most of these foods were unknown to ME, but I came at them with an open mind and an adventurous palette, and I have learned to like and appreciate almost everything, except termites and omena (tiny dried fish.) I have tried termites, and they do taste rather nice, like buttered popcorn.  But I can't get past my cultural conditioning against the idea of eating bugs.  And I have never liked any fish EXCEPT shellfish...so little dried minnows with shiny eyes looking at me...nope.  I could eat any of them if I was hungry and desperate, but they will never be a part of my regular diet.  So does that make me as stubborn and narrow minded as I perceive my neighbors to be?  😝 probably!
 
R Jay
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If you read any survivalist or apocalypse-style Shyte-Hits-The-Fan blogs, you will
come across a lot of suppositions--many written in almost a ghoulishly-gleeful tone--
on what will probably happen after...say...the US power grid goes down...or....when
Old Faithful at Yellowstone Park gives out it's last wheeze before becoming a volcano
that wipes out the central part of North America.

Suddenly no internet...no cell phone....no computer....

Even worse....no power to supply drinking water or to run the sewage system....no
electricity for heat and light and running refrigeration system...no power to the gas
stations.....

People in the cities desperate for a drink of water but not knowing that 30-50 gallons
is stored in their hot water tank.

Some people will get over an aversion to eating the family pet....skinning Fido/Fluffy
with a pair of scissors and "chunking" up meal portions with a serrated bread knife.....

Maybe people will be breaking into other's houses looking for a mechanical can opener.

Some people might even will overcome the biggest aversion of all....and become
cannibals.....

Point is when people get hungry enough, food aversions get tossed to the wayside.
 
 
Sarah Koster
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R Jay wrote:
If you read any survivalist or apocalypse-style Shyte-Hits-The-Fan blogs, you will
come across a lot of suppositions--many written in almost a ghoulishly-gleeful tone--
on what will probably happen after...say...the US power grid goes down...or....when
Old Faithful at Yellowstone Park gives out it's last wheeze before becoming a volcano
that wipes out the central part of North America.

Suddenly no internet...no cell phone....no computer....

Even worse....no power to supply drinking water or to run the sewage system....no
electricity for heat and light and running refrigeration system...no power to the gas
stations.....

People in the cities desperate for a drink of water but not knowing that 30-50 gallons
is stored in their hot water tank.

Some people will get over an aversion to eating the family pet....skinning Fido/Fluffy
with a pair of scissors and "chunking" up meal portions with a serrated bread knife.....

Maybe people will be breaking into other's houses looking for a mechanical can opener.

Some people might even will overcome the biggest aversion of all....and become
cannibals.....

Point is when people get hungry enough, food aversions get tossed to the wayside.
 



Fortunately people aren't very prone to cannibalism, as glamorized as it is by entertainment. The only cases of modern cannibalism I can think of involve hypothermia, our bodies consume massive amounts of energy when we're cold.
I'm glad that when there are natural disasters, most people run to help the other people in trouble rather than to pillage and plunder. Yes people can be very selfish when afraid, but they can also show excellent character in times of duress.
I think the #1 overlooked/shunned food source that our ancestors relied on to survive, is insects. Most primates get their protein from insects. After turning over enough logs and watching which bugs and grubs the chickens dart for, I think I have a good idea of which ones are the tastiest
I wonder just how many herbaceous plants there are, that are actually poisonous and yet taste palatable. The one I worry about the most is water hemlock. But I suspect that if I just wandered around chewing leaves and only eating what tasted good to me, I wouldn't get sick from it. I used to eat grass seeds and pine nuts when I was a hobo. I think it was a lot more nutritious than what they served at the soup kitchen.
 
R Jay
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Sarah Koster wrote:

Fortunately people aren't very prone to cannibalism, as glamorized as it is by entertainment.



The Hannibal Lector character was "inspired" by the actions of Andrej Tjikatilo, who was eventually
executed in 1994--for murdering and eating 56 people.

Fortunately during modern disasters, relief aid has come quickly and people do not have a long period
before they get food and water.

There are a number of examples where people were in a situation where food was not available for a
long period of time.

The Uraguay national football team in 1972, where some lived over 70 days before rescue by eating fellow
plane passengers.

The Donner party, whose journey to California in 1846 was interrupted by a snowstorm in Sierra Nevada.
Out of a total of 87,only 48 manged to survive.

I agree that there have been some real-life people eaters whose lives have been sensationalized  by the
media and entertainment world.

Andrej Tjikatilo is one example.  Armin Meiwes and Issei Sagawa are two more.

But there are examples of times when relief aid was non-existent or late in coming; where the lack of food over a
period of time negates the statement "most people run to help the other people in trouble rather than to pillage and
plunder....  also show excellent character in times of duress."

The 1921-22 Povolzhye famine is one...and a Nobel prize was awarded to the man who convinced Lenin
to finally allow outside agencies to come in to provide food.

People do try to say that cannibalism is a myth.  Many of them are "Holodomor" deniers.  Like the
Holocaust deniers, these people try to spread the belief that these things didn't actually happen.

Holodomor: People can read up about Stalin's attempt to control the Ukraine and the famine he caused
this area during the years of 932 and 1933.  Like the deaths of millions of Jews during Hitler's time in power,
they  can decide whether the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians and the fact that many of them
resorted to cannibalism is "false" news or not.

I have attached a picture of a woman with her child taken during the 1933 famine.  Two questions--could
a situation happen again where the disaster is so massive that relief is slow in coming or non-existant?
Even more interesting--What would the mother of today be willing to  do if this was her child?
starving-mother-and-child.jpg
[Thumbnail for starving-mother-and-child.jpg]
 
F Agricola
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The notions raised in novels/movies like Soylent Green and I Am Legend worry me more: gross overpopulation and/or a pandemic caused by a naturally mutated or purposely manufactured bug.

Nuclear war and natural disasters will always threaten but are likely to be limited in area, notwithstanding meteor impact!

If people choose to follow outdated or ill conceived food production methods, then it's Natural Selection at work. Even poor countries have varying degrees of internet connection, so there's no excuse for ignorance.

Coming from the so-called 'driest populated continent on Earth' our farmers do excel at dry land farming, and, the methods are openly available free for anyone to emulate. So, I often wonder when viewing those bleeding heart African charity TV commercials with emaciated doe-eyed children, but inexplicably healthy looking parents, why decade after decade they seem to suffer from 'drought', disease from drinking dirty water, and starvation. They don't need John Deer or Caterpillar to make a viable farm.

As for water, Africa has an abundance of artesian basins regardless of drought.

In most cases it seems civil war, corruption, and perhaps overpopulation are the main culprits leading to starvation. Don't ask me to contribute to that, that's why we pay extravagant and obscene amounts of money to those useless pricks in the UN!

It is amazing how some, mainly traditional, people still rely on a very limited number of foodstuffs. That is just setting yourself up for failure.

Being located so close to Asia is both a blessing and a curse - through emigrants we have gained a vast array of foods and the knowledge to use them. The downside is unbalanced and illegal immigration.

In regards to eating Guinea Pigs as a sole source of meat, can people suffer 'rabbit starvation'?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_poisoning

 
Maureen Atsali
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Sometimes its hard to read these posts.  I live in the third world, and let me assure you that any time there is instability, people do NOT run to help each other here.  It takes very little to break civilization when you are already on edge.  And people DO immediately default into rioting, looting and murder here.

Also let me say that people are already suffering in many parts of the world, right now.  I do home care visits, and was out the day before yesterday to see a woman with spinal TB who lives in a 10x10 mud room in a squatters slum behind a cemetery.  She shares that house with about 8 kids and grandkids.  The only food she had were a few packages of enriched porridge flour given out by the government at the TB clinic, but she had no way to cook it.   She used to earn money washing laundry for others, but now her spine has collapsed and she is barely mobile.  She has no money to buy food or charcoal or firewood, or water.  She was burning her plastic jerricans to cook, but eventually ran out of plastic too.  Pictures from Friday, not 1933.
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R Jay
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F Agricola wrote:
In regards to eating Guinea Pigs as a sole source of meat, can people suffer 'rabbit starvation'?



I have met people living the "permaculture lifestyle" long before the lifestyle had a name.
They had rabbits chickens {eggs} and goats for protein source and a big garden for veggies.

They also had a tub of lard to cook with, and they told me that sometimes they got a craving
and would just would grab a spoonful and eat the lard off the spoon.
 
R Jay
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Maureen Atsali wrote:
Also let me say that people are already suffering in many parts of the world, right now.



Don't have to go to Africa to find people living in poverty.  Just look under the bridges or
in the parks at any city in North America and you will find "squatter's camps".  Plenty of
remote villages in northern Canada with poor water, no sewage, and low income.
 
Maureen Atsali
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Yes R Jay, agree completely.
 
Maureen Atsali
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"Tend to the part of the garden you can reach.". Its good to be sensitive to the fact that there are starving children in Yemen, but that's out of reach for most of us.  Instead of philosophical discussion about " world hunger" I would love to see permies all over the world addressing local hunger in their corner of the world garden...
 
elle sagenev
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R Jay wrote:

Maureen Atsali wrote:
Also let me say that people are already suffering in many parts of the world, right now.



Don't have to go to Africa to find people living in poverty.  Just look under the bridges or
in the parks at any city in North America and you will find "squatter's camps".  Plenty of
remote villages in northern Canada with poor water, no sewage, and low income.



40% of the students in our country school are free or reduced price lunch. Here we are in the country, where you can arguable raise your food better than most, and these kids are starving. We make bags for them to take home on the weekends and school holidays.
 
pollinator
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The cultural convention of western companies moving in and brainwashing/convincing/bribing folks in 3rd world countries to stop farming the traditional way and to instead import and buy Monsanto & Co seeds/fertilizers/herbicide/etc is NOT SO GREAT.

And now we have a situation where folks are
1) Not eating nutrient dense food
2) Not eating probiotic dense food
3) Preparing/buying fast food
4) Growing chemical toxin laden food
5) Growing in a unsustainable way
6) Not eating traditional food and instead only eating superior food that successful westerners eat.
 
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I think a lot of the issue surrounding use of non-conventional foods for westerners is merely lack of knowledge. How do you prepare them? Possibly cultivate them? Cook palatably with them? There's few places in the city I'd be willing to gather wild food too, too many sprayers, but I'd try it if I grew it perhaps.

A celebrity chef could put acorns back on the (food) map overnight by demonstrating recipes with them. People don't trust 'feral looking' types to inform them about food nor fringe publications. There's a lot of mistrust and superstition e.g. western mycophobia. Typical westerners need to see it in a restaurant, then it is deemed food. That being said, find a celebrity chef, introduce great wild food, watch it rise in popularity.

The distrust goes both ways, I know permies who've basically written off society and go without many things due to an obstinate idealism that isn't in the least practical for city living.

So yes, a lot of the 'missing out' is cultural.

I still can't get a straight answer on the edibility of red Colocasia esculenta. I was told it came here (New Zealand) with early Maori as a food staple, I was tasked by local Iwi to try cultivate it. I have cooked and eaten it several times the first time nearly put me off for life I did not break down the oxalates. But now I boil it, discard the water, then cook how I want. Seriously good. In Cameroon (I think it is Cameroon) the locals won't eat Taro they have strange notions about it despite their hunger and the ease with which the plant grows there. There are westerners working on recipes now, processed food recipes, to mix taro with other staples they will eat.

The solutions are not so simple. I'm still waiting on knowledge before I commit to eating this seemingly highly palatable food regularly - in case there is an issue. I hesitate to give plants away, I hesitate to return to the Iwi and teach what I've learned. But once I get a clear picture and maybe if this is good food - I'll be seeking out chefs and gardeners to hep introduce it back to (Maori) society via local supply, restaurants, media, and reviews.

I couldn't care less if I make zero dollars off the whole venture. But this thread topic sure hits home.

I lived in the bush for four months once, and I had no Maori lore. I was very hungry. You could have fed me all manner of wild foods then. Eel kept me alive.



 
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Sarah Koster wrote:
Fortunately people aren't very prone to cannibalism, as glamorized as it is by entertainment. The only cases of modern cannibalism I can think of involve hypothermia, our bodies consume massive amounts of energy when we're cold.



Errrmmm...I think people/cultures have a real aversion to ADMITTING to cannibalism.  

I would bet there is cannibalism going on in Venezuela right now. Once all the dogs/cats have disappeared from the streets then unaccompanied young kids start disappearing next. It also happened in North Korea a couple of decades ago as well as the Soviet Union (not under Stalin but after that), they had propaganda posters going up saying people should not eat children. Keep in mind governments (both foreign and domestic) have a good reason to NOT admit that it is going on.

IMO the best solution to world hunger is to STOP ENCOURAGING humans to overpopulate regions at unsustainable levels. Many of the worst modern diseases such as HIV, Ebola, SARS etc.... came from populations eating every darn thing they could get their hands on including bats, apes, wild cats, etc... and in the process they take rare diseases out of the jungle and plop them right into large overpopulated cities where the diseases can go wild and infect thousands or even millions all over the globe. It also decimates the wildlife and drives species to the point of extinction. There are 7 billion of us -- that is enough already!
 
R Jay
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:Errrmmm...I think people/cultures have a real aversion to ADMITTING to cannibalism.




The theory is that most animals eat their placenta after giving birth in order to hide the fact
that they just gave birth from predators.  Found two separate opinions about people
doing it....

https://www.webmd.com/baby/should-i-eat-my-placenta#1

Your placenta: You could dry it and put it in pills. You could stir-fry it with onions. You could
even eat it raw in the delivery room.

https://nationalpost.com/health/placenta-pills-eating-it-is-
risky-and-bordering-on-cannibalism-doctors-say

In an email interview, Dr. Alex Farr, of the Medical University of Vienna said that while some
might find his reference to cannibalism offensive, “from a medical perspective, the placenta
carries the fetal genome and therefore it belongs to the baby. It is up to every individual
whether he or she considers eating human, genetically-different tissue as cannibalism or not.”

Middle to upper class white women with relatively high incomes and education are among the
most frequent consumers of placenta, he said. “This might be due to the fact that these women
have access and frequently follow (pseudo) fashionable trends and often prefer esoteric and alternative medicine.”
 
pollinator
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According to this article, there are at least some Kenyans looking to bring back traditional nourishing foods. I don't know if any of these people are anywhere near you, Maureen, but if so you may be able to find others with similar values.

Weston A. Price Foundation Visit to Kenya
 
R Jay
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there was a research study done several years ago in the province of Alberta. A group of First
Nations people were put into 2 separate groups.  One group ate "normally" and the other group
ate only food that was present before the coming of the white man.

The "normal" group continued to suffer from obesity and type 2 diabetes, while the other group
which ate "wild" food lost weight and many of the members were able to get off their diabetes
medication.

Unfortunately, I can not find any reference to that study....maybe I'm not looking in the right places?
Sometimes I miss the ability just to log into university servers as a guest and use the "gopher"
command to try to find the info....but I guess the trade-off is being able to use something faster
than a Commodore 64 with a floppy drive and 1200-baud phone-line modem.....
 
gardener
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There have definitely been a lot of studies that show when a culture's diet is disrupted by "modern" eating habits, their health goes through the floor. I recall reading your study too, but also don't recall exactly where. Might have been done in AU?

I eat weird, and I run into a lot of cultural issues with "normal" Americans "eeew, it doesn't look familiar, what is it?" It is a learned response, my sister's kids learned it from her husband, who is a classic "eeew, yuk!" type. Contrast that with the kid of a friend of mine, he's been around weird foods his  whole life, and my cooking too. He had a friend with him at this party, both boys about 16- 17 years old. He started loading something on his plate, his friend said "What is that?" He answered "It's in one of Pearl's serving bowls, that means it's vegetarian, it's not something you have ever had, and it's really yummy!" His friend tried one, and loaded up his plate too... None of my sister's kids would have done that, they wouldn't have even tried it. It's a learned habit. I think it can be unlearned, as in the friend there, who was willing to try stuff, just in case it was good.

How can we spread the habit of trying things before saying it's icky? In a culture like this one, where McDonald's is acceptable food? I have pipe dreams of living in a world where social pressure pushes people toward good habits, not bad, where "hey let's hit Sonic!" is met with "oh ugh, are you serious?" And where things are tried before a decision is reached on it.
And a world where people don't freak out when I taste a plant to ID it....
 
R Jay
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One thing I always wondered about  was:  What would prepared skunk cabbage taste like?
Never got around to it, though.

Many survival manuals claim that if you boil it 3 times-each time in fresh water-that it becomes
edible.

Here is an account from somebody who claims he tried to prepare and eat it:

http://www.nathanielwhitmore.com/blog/skunk-cabbage-is-it-edible-when-cooked

Seems like it might fall under the category as defined in the first Crocodile Dundee movie:

" ...Well, you can live on it, but it taste like shit..."
 
pollinator
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Dean - high end restaurants use a lot of unusual ingredients. But most Americans don't eat high end food.  We used fiddlehead ferns, ramps, nettles, just to name a few. Sea urchin pasta and fresh sardines were a hard sell. To reach mainstream America, unusual ingredients would have to appear at lower end chain restaurants and fast food. Sad, but true.
 
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My Dad used to play “ five pounds of possum in my headlight tonight” on his guitar when I was a kid. My own perception of possums and raccoons is that they are dirty and nasty but I grew up around people who thought they were just fine eating. Of course I love venison and some people ( flatlanders as my Dad would say) think it’s disgusting. My dad also used to catch and eat frog legs as a kid and the idea grossed me out.  I think that like someone pointed out above, most peoples diets have shrunk rather than expanded with globalism, largely due to perceived abundance of staple crops and the connotation of heritage type foods as being low brow or “ poor”.
 
Jason Hernandez
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raven ranson wrote:

When I saw the title of this thread, I thought it would be a great thread for stretching our own ideas of culturally appropriate food.  It would be fun to hear about your own personal experiences eating something outside your cultural norm.  One of the fastest ways to make a change in the world is to teach by example.



Well, I previously mentioned the Taiwan dog meat thing. More to the point, though, I believe, is that while I was yet a child, I found three Euell Gibbons books in my mother's library. Gibbons was very open about calling out food prejudices. Suburbanites spraying Roundup on the dandelions in the lawn would be surprised to know that the reason the dandelion is in North America is that early colonists brought it to plant as a garden vegetable. I admit, I never have liked dandelion; the number of water changes it takes to remove the bitterness always seemed wasteful to me.

But certainly, anything I read about in Euell Gibbons and subsequently tried would count as "eating something outside my cultural norm," since my cultural norm was the suburbs where food comes from a supermarket. I found it very liberating. I never have been able to put together a whole meal of wild edibles like Gibbons could, but the knowledge gained from him has served me well in that I have sometimes been able to make the entire vegetable course of the meal out of wild edibles. I was pleased to find that some of his North American wild edibles can be found in the Caribbean, too -- the green amaranth he called "an invader from the tropics," suggesting it was in South America and the Caribbean first, North America later; and the purslane he called "India's gift to the world," indicating that it, too, thrives in tropical places.

Another example is huitlacoche -- I posted the thread about it in the Fungus forum. In the Anglo-American cultural milieu in which I grew up, it is called "corn smut," and reviled as a crop disease. I would not have known it is really a tasty mushroom unless I had looked to recovering the Mexican side of my heritage.
 
This will take every ounce of my mental strength! All for a tiny ad:
PEP1 Certification workshop/gathering/event May/June 2019
https://permies.com/wiki/98047/PEP-Certification-workshop-gathering-event
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