#SolidScience – Traditional Diet

For thousands of years, Indigenous People have lived off the land.

Prior to European settlement, Indigenous People lived off of a diet that mainly consisted of lean meats from animals like kangaroos, emus, and fish, and plant food such as fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, and starchy tubers. A lot of these traditional foods had a low energy density, which provided a natural constraint on energy intake due to the labour intensity of procuring these foods. This is largely why Aboriginal people were physically fit and lean.

Animals would be hunted with weapons like spears, boomerangs, and stone axes. Preparation of these animals, for example kangaroos, would include singeing the hair over fire, skinning (some may not have been skinned), burying the carcass in a hole in the ground, covering it with sand with either hot coals or lighting a fire over it, then cutting it into portions once cooked. The methods of sourcing and preparing traditional foods vary in different regions.

Damper was another traditional food that Indigenous People would eat. Instead of self-raising flour that is commonly used today, native seeds like Wattleseed, native millet, Spinifex seeds, and many more were used. These native seeds would be ground down using a grinding stone, much like a mortar and pestle, water would be added to the mix to form a dough, which is then kneaded until properly mixed. The process is complete after being cooked in the ashes of a fire or under hot coals.

Fresh damper, made by NACC NRM’s Aboriginal Custodianship Program Coordinator Priscilla Papertalk

Many traditional methods of hunting and preparing food are still used today by many Indigenous People. With Indigenous People being more susceptible to health problems such as Diabetes and Heart Disease, a combination of the traditional diet with modern foods could have a great impact on the health of Indigenous People.

Taj Mamid – Aboriginal Custodianship Project Officer

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