By Barbara Fraser
When indigenous people migrate from forest communities to towns, they leave behind their traditional diet of fish and game and switch to chicken, eggs, sausages or canned meat – a menu that is sapping the nutritional diversity from people’s diets, according to surveys of schoolchildren in the western Amazon.
The number of people who depend on game animals is not high, but it is an important source of diversity in people’s diets, said Nathalie Van Vliet, who is conducting a study of game or “bushmeat” consumption for CIFOR.
“People are losing nutritional diversity by abandoning the protein that comes from the wild,” said Van Vliet.
“This transition is even more surprising considering western Amazon mid-sized towns are situated along a river that retains the largest diversity of fish worldwide.”
Although about 10% of the people living in forest communities eat bushmeat every day, that figure plummets when they move to large towns. The same trend occurs with fish, consumed by 40% of rural dwellers and only 10% of their urban peers, Van Vliet said during a presentation at the Third Latin American Congress of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), held in San José, Costa Rica, from 12 to 15 June.
Indigenous people who moved to the towns quickly adopted the non-indigenous diets, said Van Vliet, who surveyed schoolchildren about the kinds of protein they had eaten the previous day. More....