Contribution of Wild Foods to Diet, Food Security, and Cultural Values Amidst Climate Change
Keywords:Wild Foods, Food Environment, Food Security, Food Systems, Climate Change, Native American, Indigenous, Traditional Foods
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 community in the context of climate change. Structured interviews were conducted with low-income residents of the Flathead Indian Reservation 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.
 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.
 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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