Food is a gift. Salish Elders remind us that true wealth is having access to native foods, along with knowledge of how to gather, prepare and serve them.
Live with the Seasons. From spring camas prairies to summer huckleberry meadows to autumn fish runs, seasonal foods connect us with the rhythm of the land. For thousands of years we have organized our lives to gather what is in season. In return, we receive peak nutrients that keep us healthy all year long
Diversify Your Diet. Our ancestors ate a wide variety of food just a few generations ago. Today, most Americans eat only 12-20 foods on a regular basis, which limits our consumption of minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. When we eat many types of of foods, we receive the nourishment we need to stay strong. We also promote the diversity and health of the land.
Eat More Plants. All health advocates agree that we need to eat more plants. Plant foods help us maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eating more plants also reduces climate change and environmental destruction.
Traditional Foods are Whole Foods. Imagine walking through the grocery store with your great grandparents. What would they recognize as food? Our ancestors thrived on Whole Foods that weren’t industrialized, genetically modified, refined, packed with sugar or blended with additives, dyes or chemicals. Whole Foods feed the wholeness within us.
Gather Wild Foods. There is a store outside your door. Wild foods are the most nutritious and flavorful foods we can find. Free and accessible, they thrive all around us from forests to fields to backyards. Tasting wild foods connects us to the gifts of the land and attunes us to the seasons.
Cook and Eat with Good Intention. Cooking is time to offer respect to the plants and animals that gave their lives to nourish us. It is also an opportunity to honor our culture and the people whom we shared food. If we eat while on the go, we miss the pleasure of eating, and do not have sufficient time to savor and digest. Harvesting, preparing, serving and consuming wild foods with good intentions feeds our bodies and spirits.
Give Back to the Land. When we harvest and grow foods in a way that supports plant and animal, communities, we express native values of generosity. Generosity includes both giving and receiving. Organic and sustainable practices return basic life materials to the soil. Through caring for the land, we continue the ancient practices of our ancestors and pass down a world that supports generations to come.
Acknowledgement: This article is from the “Feeding 7 Generations: A Salish Cookbook” by Elise Krohn and Valerie Segrest.