Survey on traditional and bush foods in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Brisbane

Stuart-Fox, Elisabeth (1999). Survey on traditional and bush foods in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Brisbane Master's Thesis, , The University of Queensland.

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Author Stuart-Fox, Elisabeth
Thesis Title Survey on traditional and bush foods in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Brisbane
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1999
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 220
Language eng
Subjects 420305 Aboriginal Cultural Studies
Formatted abstract
This report presents the results of a consultation process within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community of Brisbane in relation to the promotion of traditional foods, and in relation to the strategies needed to formulate a nutrition intervention  programme to promote their increased consumption. The consultation process was through a survey questionnaire carried out by the Aboriginal and Islander Community Health Service, which sought information on some of the factors which would influence their consumption. It investigated how 'traditional' or 'bush' foods are defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the current consumption patterns of traditional foods, and the factors which influence these patterns. The survey also sought information regarding taste preferences in relation to traditional foods, and those opinions, attitudes and beliefs which might influence their consumption, such as taboos on totemic species. Other practical factors such as affordability, availability and accessibility were also investigated. Most importantly, the survey questionnaire sought information with regard to the cultural values and significance attached to traditional foods, and the most culturally appropriate methods of supplying and distributing them.

Information obtained from the survey showed that despite the fact that this urban Indigenous community does not have access to land for traditional hunting and harvesting, and that members require a permit for harvesting even certain marine resources, traditional foods remain highly culturally significant. Bush foods to be promoted need to be the traditional foods of the local urban Indigenous Community, not bush foods in general. Furthermore, traditional animal foods are more culturally significant than plant foods and those traditional animal foods that are already commercially available are not as culturally significant as those that are not. The consumption of traditional foods by Indigenous people cannot be divorced from production or supply, distribution and preparation processes. For Indigenous people the whole sequence from hunting through to eating carries cultural significance. The cultural significance of certain animal foods in particular cannot be separated from their traditional means of production and supply. For the full value, nutritional and cultural, of such foods to be realised in any dietary intervention programme. Indigenous people therefore need to be involved at every stage from production to their  end use.

Recommendations which stemmed from this consultation process pointed to the necessity for traditional foods to be made available at a 'bush tucker canteen', in meals prepared by Indigenous people. Furthermore, permits for traditional hunting  and harvesting of marine resources should be made more easily available to urban Indigenous people, as well as access to lands for harvesting wildlife, both of which  would permit involvement in the production of traditional foods, and go a long way towards meeting Indigenous people's needs to integrate production and consumption of traditional foods. Such a programme would not only improve the health and nutrition of Indigenous people, but also contribute towards fulfilling those cultural and spiritual needs that are inextricably part of their association with the land.

Keyword Aboriginal Australians -- Food
Torres Strait Islanders -- Food
Wild foods -- Queensland
Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders
traditional foods
bush foods
community programme
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