What is an Indigenous foods challenge?
It is to harvest, preserve, hunt, gather, and trade food to last a full winter. September 2009 at a B.C. Foods Systems Network conference in Chehalis, in between the workshops a couple of ladies and I got to talking. Raven Ann Potchka and Dawn Marsden. What if we were to eat what our ancestors did and do it all ourselves... could we do it? We decided to take the winter of 2009 to research what is actually Indigenous and what has been introduced. To spend the spring and summer gathering and to make it a challenge to encourage others to join in and create a food sharing network as well.
This has been a challenge indeed!
Dairy This has proven very hard for the kids so we have allowed organic almond milk without sugar
ssugar maple syrup and local honey are allowable substitutes
white flour though we are using local milled oats and whole grain local milled bread and papa John made us pumpernickel with molasses
processed foods or meats
shopping in the larger Foods stores and chains
pop or juice
beef, pork, and chicken
local fruits and vegetables though the first day was hard my daughter loves bananas and grapes so we make sure its organic and at the local health food store
eggs this one we are still up in the air about
beans we were unable to get a hold of some real indigenous beans form down south so we use local organic
Herbs and spices try to be local and organic
organic local garlic and ginger
some farmers market items such as vinegar, mustard and homemade preserves without sugar
Restaurants must only eat organic local fruits or veggies and seafood if we have to eat out
* once a month we will treat ourselves to one introduced food for the day
birthday cake at a birthday party
organic corn chips
sherbet at coombs country market
Special days at school
We can trade throughout North and South America... its all Indigenous land. Foods that were here prior to contact. Such as corn and beans from the south, wild rice form the east, caribou way up north,eulichan grease, seaweed and herring eggs from the north west coast. We will use the trading system as much as possible. However, some people prefer money and this can be allowed.
So during the summer of 2010 we have harvested, hunted, traded and preserved the following foods:
Moose - roasts, dried (big chief smoker we got secondhand), canned moose stew 1 1/2 cases
My cousin Travis shot a moose and we drove 1150km to Fort St. John, we traded for 3 cases of sockeye salmon, halibut, and dried candied salmon. 2 Moose hearts traded by my cousin Sai from the Northwest Territories for 1 case of salmon
Deer - roasts, ribs, 6 jars of stew with homemade tomato sauce
This deer my husband shot. This was the first time my children seen an animal die, they prayed and thanked the deer for its life and put the stomach wrapped in sword ferns and let the tide take it out
Rock cod - frozen
John and the kids went to Seitcher Bay on the west coast and caught the fish
Clams and Crabs -frozen
Kids and John got this but we ate most of this during the summer months
rabbit - local farmers market
Salmon - 35 frozen given to me by Jane Jones from local Tseshaht First Nations, and by cousin Tyrone Marshall caught down the river beside our house, 1 case jarred fish head soup from said fish, 25 1/2 smoked and 13 cases of canned sockeye salmon, My sister Skeena and I went to the mainland and stayed with our beloved friends June and Fred Quipp from the Cheam First Nations who donated the fish and home to stay in while we spent a few days under her awesome canning shelter. She taught me how to smoke and hang my first smoked salmon. This was our main trade item so we are down a few cases I think we still have 8 cases and canned 10 of the 1/2 smoked salmon so we are down to 15 and up 2 cases of canned smoked, 1 bag of full smoked and 10 dried and candied salmon bought from local Tseshaht Ray Watts
Seaweed bought a few bags from a friend Barb White in Comox. I wish I had more.
Eulichan grease my cousin Sacheen told be of a guy named Jacob on facebook who was selling and he sent me 5 500mls cans of the good stuff
Sea asparagus - 1 1/2 cases of pickled picked by John on the west coast
Bull kelp - 2 cases of pickled also picked by John on the open water of the westcoast
Berries - frozen local blueberries we picked at a u-pick with the kids, frozen and jarred blackberries we picked with the kids, wild cranberries a gift from my friend Snookie from northwest territories traded for canned salmon
Fruit - a huge bag of dried, 1 case jarred and made into leather local apples bought at the farmers market, peaches 1/2 case done with honey as a sweetener and my friend Mahalia Young gave me a case, cherries Mahalia gave me a case, frozen grapes and pureed frozen for juice picked in our parents backyard, couple of jarred pears from last year we got at our old house
Mushrooms - dried chantrelle John and kids picked
Other - 1 case canned stewed tomatoes, 4 cases of salsa all local organic from the farmers market,
wild rice we got at the local health food store, oats and grain bread which we will buy every week at the farmers market, squash and lots of fresh veggies from the farmers market. I did not have time this summer to start my garden. I am a novice gardener but very keen to try. Whole grain flour locally milled only if we really need it, vinegar local guy makes it as well as cleaning products
Coffee - farmers market fair trade coffee I know this one I could not give up would've have liked to trade with Indigenous farmers instead
Chestnuts - four bags of frozen chestnuts from our yard in our old house
Now hopefully this will last us the winter but we will continue to go to the west coast to harvest shellfish like oysters, clams, and crab throughout the winter season, and we will go to the farmers market every week if we need to get things like potatoes and onions.
We have weighed ourselves (not telling yet) and are going to get a full physical to monitor our health during this time. I am also 7 months pregnant so I don't intend on losing any weight, if I stay the same that would be ideal. My 10 year old daughter is also writing a journal of her indigenous food challenge and her feeling about having dried moose meat and berries for lunch at school. The kids are getting a big kick out of the challenge and we talk about our food at the dinner table. My four year old says "is this indigenous mom" then at the health food store he says "can I have a ndignous sucker?"
I have only done it for 2 days now and I feel so good knowing exactly where all my food was made and how it was prepared. Lots of love went into the preparing of our food and you feel it when you eat it.
We are a big family of we have 5 kids as well my sister is staying here with her 2 boys and my 19 year old nephew. So all together we have 4 adults and 7 kids in our household. Today for dinner we had a huge baked moose bone with salad and crispy seaweed and to wash it all down with ice tea.
Some of the challenges so far is my freezer was unplugged for a day a thawed out the top part of the freezer so I had to quickly can up the meat. The berries I have to make a sauce now that its all mushy.
Until my next entry
eat good and live well
"Our food is our medicine"
Nitanis, John and Family