TOPICS – Module 6: Nutrition and Native Agriculture

Traditional and Indigenous varieties of many agricultural crops are higher in nutritional value than most of which is commercially available. There are likely several reasons for this including genetic qualities and soils. However, it is interesting to note that in soils without fertilizer, many of these corn varieties still retain higher nutritional content than modern hybrids. A study by the University of Minnesota found: -Hominy corn is high in carbohydrates and protein. One serving of hominy yields 47% of the DRV for fiber and 33% of the B vitamin Thiamine and has half the calories of market corn. -Arikara squash has l3% of the DRV for fiber, 64% of the DRV for vitamin A, and half the calories and double the calcium and magnesium of the market equivalent. -Similarly, Potawatomi lima beans are low in fat, and high in carbohydrates and protein. B vitamins are found in abundance, including thiamine, pantothenic acid, niacin and B6. Potawatomi lima beans also provide 24 grams of fiber per serving, and 2l times the antioxidants found in market beans. As Abdullah A. Jaradat would write in his recent publication from the University of Minnesota at Morris, Native American Maize – Source of Sustenance and To Restore Indigenous Food Systems, “In spite of the low-input conditions under which these landraces have been grown for generations, protein content was relatively high and ranged from 9.5 in the landrace Hochunk to 13.5% in Seneca Blue Bear…”i Similar studies by the Mandaamin Institute and others indicate similar tendencies: The taste and nutritional density of plant products diminished over time. For example, Native Americans grew flour corn with excellent taste and nutritional value, known for the quality of eating. Analysis of 24 different varieties of native flour corn in 2011 showed that they averaged 14.2% protein and 64% starchii. In contrast, modern hybrids have been bred for yield, and our impression is that they lack taste and nutrition. “Analysis of 4 modern hybrids grown in southeastern Wisconsin in 2010 showed they had about half as much protein and more starch (7.5% protein and 73% starch). The easiest way for a corn plant to produce yield is to produce starch. Perhaps even more significant are differences in essential amino acids that are crucial for building new proteins in the human or animal body. The native corns averaged 0.39% lysine and 0.33% methionine in their grain, while the modern hybrids averaged only 0.28% lysine and 0.18% methionine.iii” Impact of the loss of access to traditional foods: Diabetes in Anishinaabeg Akiing: Our community is considered to be impoverished. Per capita income is currently $7,673, with the counties on the reservation having the highest child poverty rate in the state of Minnesota. For instance, the 2000 census indicates that 69.7% of the children in the Pine Point school on the reservation live below the poverty level and 99% of the children in the Pine Point Elementary School qualify for free lunches. Over 49% of the adult population does not have either a GED or a high school diploma, and 91% of our people are either chemically dependent or the immediate family member of a chemically dependent person.iv The health impacts of our structurally imposed poverty are also quite apparent. According to the Indian Health Service registry we have 988 diabetes diagnosed clients on the White Earth reservation, which represents 29% of our population.v This number increased from the previous year when there were 689 diagnosed, and a 20% diabetes rate.

Our need to promote this work is evidenced in our battle on obesity, as well as the loss of income in our food economy. In the Pine Point School in particular, the vast majority of children come from families with diabetes, and the BMI index for this school indicates that at kindergarten 33% of our children are characterized as obese or overweight, and by the 8th grade (the final year in this school), 80% of the children fall into this category. This is directly related to both the lack of access to traditional and healthy foods and the lack of access to exercise.

Discussion Questions:

Readings
Session 1: Nutrition and Native Agriculture Module Topics Readings From the text: 5

Assignments
TOPICS – Module 5: Nutrition and Native Agriculture ? DAY 1: 1 2 3 4 DAY 2: 5 6 7 8 9 DAY 3: 10 11 12 13 14

Bibliography Indian Health Service registry. Jaradat, Abdullah and Jana Rinke. Native American Maize – Source of Sustenance and to Restore Indigenous Food Systems. The North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory (April 2012): 12. Native accessions were analyzed utilizing Near Infra Red Spectroscopy at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in 2011 as part of a USDA-NIFA-OREI grant. White Earth Tribal Statistics 2005

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Jaradat, Abdullah and Jana Rinke. Native American Maize – Source of Sustenance and to Restore Indigenous Food Systems. The North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory (April 2012): 12. ii Native accessions were analyzed utilizing Near Infra Red Spectroscopy at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in 2011 as part of a USDA-NIFA-OREI grant. iii Native accessions were analyzed utilizing Near Infra Red Spectroscopy at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in 2011 as part of a USDA-NIFA-OREI grant. iv White Earth Tribal Statistics 2005 v Indian Health Service registry.

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