Curious Bites

Eating Into the Wild with Navajos and Eskimos

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Eating Into the Wild with Navajos and Eskimos

Euell Gibbons was certainly not the first American to survive on pine nuts gathered here and there. Indeed, the natives of the Navajo and Pueblo tribes were already doing it four thousand years before Christ. What's more, it would seem that they regularly ate sweetened pine sprouts too.

And back in the days of the great explorers, Jacques Cartier (1491-1557) – the man who named the continent's northern territories Kanata (later Canada) – and his brave companions survived scurvy thanks to a herbal tea prepared with pine needles, rich in vitamin C, as they had been taught by the indigenous Iroquois tribe.

Meanwhile, the native Adirondack (literally “tree-eater) tribe, after whom the mountain range is named, were famous for their custom of eating pine bark, which they knew to contain a lot of vitamins, and which scientists from Berkeley University have only recently shown to be rich in anti-oxidants.

In spring the Eskimos too eat willow bark and leaves, which provide plenty of sugars, starch and vitamin C. Try it - you might be surprised!

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