Traditional Foods

Indigenous Peoples have an implicit understanding of food security and sustainable diets derived from place-based knowledge and livelihoods spanning thousands of years. Informed by their local knowledge and guided by conceptions of living well, Indigenous Peoples are the custodians of a large part of the world’s biodiversity and natural resources.  Recent local, national, and international efforts are bringing forward the vast knowledge of Indigenous Peoples to better document food biodiversity and its cultural and nutritional contributions to human well-being and our global heritage of food knowledge.

Traditional Animal Foods of Indigenous Peoples of Northern North America

by Harriet V. Kuhnlein and Murray M. Humphries, 2017

Available online

This web publication has the purpose to describe and to reference the published literature on traditional animal foods known and used by Indigenous Peoples of northern North America. We present information on the locations of the cultures whose peoples have used, and often continue to use, these foods. The publication focuses on Canada, Alaska, Greenland and the northern United States of America, but many of the animal species presented here also occur in the northern latitudes of Europe and Asia. In sum, we present data for 527 species of animals, drawing information from over 490 ethnographic sources, an additional 91 unique sources reporting nutritional information, and 357 sources containing basic biological information. 

Traditional Plant Foods of Canadian Indigenous Peoples: Nutrition, Botany and Use

by Harriet V. Kuhnlein and Nancy J. Turner, 1991

Available online

A book on plant foods used by Canadian Indigenous Peoples, this publication reports on the nutritional, botanical and ethnological data of more than one thousand species of edible plants found in Canada. In addition to providing nutrient information, it describes regions where these food plants are available and presents patterns of use of particular species by Canadian Indigenous Peoples. Several cross-referencing tables containing common English plant names, scientific notation and composite information about each species are accompanied by chapters giving an overview of the known ethnic uses of the most important and universally used species. Biologists, ethnologists, Indigenous Peoples, nutritionists, wildlife enthusiasts and health care professionals will all find this information valuable. This valuable 600 page resource has been out of print for several years, and is now scanned and available for download by chapter on the website of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.


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