andrew schneider investigates

April 28, 2008

Subsistence food helps cancer fighting.

Filed under: Food - good, bad, weird,Random observations,Sustainable food — Andrew Schneider @ 09:16

For those fighting cancer, a healthy diet is critical.

For Alaska Natives fighting cancer, a healthy diet means foods hunted and gathered from land and sea, foods seasoned by a sense of place and community, foods like muktuk and seagull egg pie that the non-Native medical establishment doesn’t understand and, therefore, has a hard time endorsing.

Anchorage Daily News Reporter Debra McKinney tells of a new guide which gives dietary credibility to what subsistence eaters have known all along: Wild foods are not only rich in nutrients, but rich in story, culture and comfort, all part of the health and healing package.

The book, “Traditional Food Guide for Alaska Native Cancer Survivors,” is of vital importance, the reporter writes, because proportionally, Alaska Natives die of cancer way more than the white population does.

With 400 new cases diagnosed each year, it’s the leading cause of death among Natives in Alaska, as it is for all Alaskans. Research indicates that a shift of diet, from traditional subsistence foods toward processed, convenient ones, may play a role, and not just in higher rates of cancer, but diabetes and obesity.

The 142-page guide, primarily funded by a grant from the Lance Armstrong Foundation, provides protein analysis for everything from musk ox to muskrat. It lists the vitamin A and C content of wild celery, fiddlehead ferns, fireweed and other subsistence plants. Calories, cholesterol and carbohydrates, too.

It also explains vital questions like: what’s a serving of moose? Check out her story at the link above.

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