Learning From The Elders on The Internet

dsc01420Terrific work is happening in the recording of traditional food knowledge (TFK) from indigenous people around the world. TFK refers to the cultural tradition of sharing food, recipes and cooking skills and techniques and passing down that collective wisdom through generations. I see this as a very important for two reasons:

1 – To help populations regain their connection to the land, keep their traditional knowledge and reclaim their identity, health and mana.

2 – I’d like to believe that it’s now pretty well understood that many modern intensive-agricultural methods aren’t beneficial to the environment or mankind. We need to take a look at different ways people beneficially work with the land and apply some of the lessons to our own little piece of the earth.

Indigenous Nutrition is a fantastic website with seven quality webisodes exploring the traditional knowledge of seven different peoples, and what they’re doing to keep it. The focus is primarily on health issues. This is an excellent resource and will hopefully inspire others to do similar things within their communities.

From a New Zealand viewpoint, Te Ara covers Māori food production economics and The National Library does a brief introduction to traditional knowledge. The Māori Plant Use database allows easy access to records on traditional uses of NZ native plants. The same people (Maanaki Whenua, who incidentally have a wonderful bookstore) also provide excellent information on harakeke (NZ flax, Phormium spp.).

A lot of work is being done in this area and it would be great to see more resources online in the near future. If you’ve got any great links in this area, please share in the comments.