As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m very excited to read Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods by Gary Paul Nabhan and to learn all about the history of and how to cook all sorts of interesting ingredients such as Sonoran white pomegranate (Chili Pepper Nation), Zimmerman pawpaw (Crab Cake Nation), Magnum Bonum apple (Corn Bread Nation), Snake River Chinook salmon (Salmon Nation), Acorns of the Englemen Oak (Acorn Nation), Seneca hominy flint corn (Maple Syrup Nation), Narragansett turkey (Clambake Nation), and the pre-Civil War peanut (Gumbo Nation).
But before I went out and bought the book (or rather pre-ordering it on Amazon.com), I found this site that shows that Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) has previously published in a stripped down list of endangered plants and animals with brief histories of just the most endangered species (without pretty photos or recipes) by the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University. I think the image above was the cover to that publication; as you can the subtitle is different. In this case it is Bringing Cultural and Culinary Mainstays from the Past into the New Millenium.
And you can download this older RAFT publication Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University by clicking here!
They even provide a downloadable publication of the Seafood Traditions at Risk in Northern America!
What I found interesting about finding this site, is the list of some of the ancient and indigenous cultures that the foods were eaten by (Mandan, Arikara, Hidatsa, Seminole, Iroquois, Cherokee, Sahaptin, Chumash, O’odham, Cocopa, Quechan, Hopi, Navajo, Santo Domingo, and Taos) and the place-based immigrant cultures that these foods came from (such as Amish, Mennonite, Hutterite, Cajun, Creole, Hispanic, Connecticut Yankee, Florida Cracker, Pennsylvania Dutch, and Appalachian Scots-Irish). This information was not in the NYTimes article featuring Renewing America’s Food Traditions and while I’d assume that it is in the new publication, who knows?
This site also lists the reasons why it is important to maintain the diversity of America’s edible plants, animals, and their food traditions:
Ecological Benefits: plant and animal diversity sustains healthy ecological relationships; sustainable agricultural practices which support plant and animal diversity encourage resistance to pest and diseases also ensuring food security.
Gastronomic Benefits: inherent in a diversity of foods is a variety of aromas, textures, and flavors.
Cultural Benefits: preservation of traditional knowledge and sustainable production.
Health & Nutrition Benefits: resistance to disease including diabetes and heart disease.
Also, I found this lovely RAFT Regional Map of North America’s Place-based Foods on the Slow Food U.S.A. website.
On the Slow Food U.S.A. website, you can also download a publication about Renewing the Native Food Traditions of Bison Nation and the Directory of Native American Food Producers, Chefs, Caterers and Supporting Non-Profits: Where to Purchase Traditional Foods of the Indigenous Peoples of North America.
I think I will still go out and purchase the Chelsea Green publication of Renewing America’s Food Traditions, but it’s nice to be able to download Nabhan‘s comprehensive list of endangered plants and animals that were once fairly commonplace in American kitchens but are now threatened, endangered or basically extinct in the marketplace (even if it may be a bit outdated).