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The Decolonization Diet Project is Teaching Volunteers to Eat Like Native Americans

The Decolonization Diet Project is Teaching Volunteers to Eat Like Native Americans

 

Written by Ramon Gonzalez

Can you give up cheese, tomatoes, and beer in exchange for dandelions, sun chokes, and valley grasshopper for a year?

Freakonomics recently highlighted the Decolonizing Diet Project, a study at the School of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University, where a group of 25 volunteers are spending the next year eating only foods that were part of the Great Lakes diet prior to the arrival of Europeans.

The study is exploring the personal relationship between humans and the experience of eating regional native foods. The volunteers are all participating in the project at varying levels of commitment. Some are following the Decolonizing Diet Project at 25%, while others are committed to eating 100% native food items.

Found Michigan has an interesting interview with Dr. Martin Reinhardt, an assistant professor of Native American Studies at NMU, and the lead researcher for the Decolonizing Diet Project.

If the project sounds like locavorism for the hardcore who are sustaining themselves on grubs and pine bark-think again. Thereís a Master Food list and DDP Grocery Food list to help participants navigate their food choices, which isnít always easy as Dr. Martin explained to Found Michigan:

Yeah. I did mess up, I already canít claim 100 percent. I was out shopping and bought some parsnips; in my memory, parsnips were part of the diet. I did not have my master food list with me and I was going based on what I remembered. So I got home and I cooked up some nice hashbrowns with parsnips, using sweet potatoes and sunchokes, and then I was reading through the master food list afterwards and thatís when it hit me that it wasnít parsnips on the listóit was actually cow parsnips. That just goes to show you itís not an easy diet to follow by any means. You have to really know your foods.

Besides the lists of acceptable foods, the group regularly meets for potlucks and shares recipes on the DDP group recipe forum. From browsing through the recipes it doesnít sound like these volunteers are missing out as many of the recipes sound delicious.

Could you adhere to a diet the Native Americans wouldíve followed before Europeans arrived?

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.

 

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80 comments

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2:14PM PDT on Sep 29, 2012

very interesting to try!

1:16AM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

I probably wouldn't miss the processed foods. But dump the tomatoes? Come on. That came from natives in Mexico. Plus it's good for preventing prostate cancer. I could probably do most of it, though I'm not so sure if I could adhere strictly to it.

9:37AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

hmm...

3:14PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Well, don't forget the native folks were not vegetarians. You have a variety of fish,squirrels, posum,dear,blck bear,wild turkey, mushrooms,etc It is all edible.And all of those animals could be hunted with bow and arrow.

3:14PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Well, don't forget the native folks were not vegetarians. You have a variety of fish,squirrels, posum,dear,blck bear,wild turkey, mushrooms,etc It is all edible.And all of those animals could be hunted with bow and arrow.

12:08PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

There are a LOT of plants on that list that have toxic properties, and this wouldn't be a diet to try without serious study and the knowledge of experienced native eaters. While some of the things are perfectly edible and harmless, some are NOT.

6:59AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

thanks..

1:32AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

No problem with the veggies but no way to the grasshopper! If I need protein I'd rather eat a variety of beans.

10:52PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

I live in Michigan and will look this up, it sounds really interesting - thanks.

7:03PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

I like the idea -time to see if there's one for my region.

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