Special Issue "The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods"

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Food Security and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 October 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The ethnobiology of wild foods has received increasing attention in recent years, since traditional foodways around the world are still based on several wild plant, animal, fungal, microorganism, and mineral ingredients, as well as their food products and culinary preparations.

In the last few decades, wild foods in different parts of the world have been the subject of revalorization and commodification processes, with complex outcomes at the social, cultural, and economic level. Within these processes, wild foods have also come under the attention of the tourism and gastronomic sectors, which are bridging innovation and the (re)invention of traditions. Their commodification has, however, sometimes led, in different contexts, to over-harvesting and has threatened the continuation of their use for subsistence.

Wild foods around the globe therefore urgently need to be documented and evaluated, not only in terms of their biological, chemical, technological, nutritional, and pharmacological aspects, but especially in their social, cultural, and religious significance.

Original research on traditional/local wild foods will be particularly welcome, as well as attempts to determine the impact of the survival of these food items for fostering community-centered strategies of local development and sustainable food systems, attuned to local ecologies and cultural heritage.

Prof. Dr. Andrea Pieroni
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Ethnobotany
  • Ethnomycology
  • Ethnozoology
  • Ethnozymology
  • TEK
  • Local development
  • Gastronomy

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Wild Foods: A Topic for Food Pre-History and History or a Crucial Component of Future Sustainable and Just Food Systems?
Foods 2021, 10(4), 827; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10040827 - 10 Apr 2021
Viewed by 511
Abstract
The ethnobiology of wild foods has garnered increasing attention in food studies in recent years, since traditional foodways in less urbanized and globalized areas of the world are sometimes still based on often neglected or even largely unknown wild plant, animal, fungal, microorganism, [...] Read more.
The ethnobiology of wild foods has garnered increasing attention in food studies in recent years, since traditional foodways in less urbanized and globalized areas of the world are sometimes still based on often neglected or even largely unknown wild plant, animal, fungal, microorganism, and mineral ingredients, as well as their food products and culinary preparations [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)

Research

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Article
Gathered Wild Food Plants among Diverse Religious Groups in Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan
Foods 2021, 10(3), 594; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10030594 - 11 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 787
Abstract
Recent ethnobotanical studies have raised the hypothesis that religious affiliation can, in certain circumstances, influence the evolution of the use of wild food plants, given that it shapes kinship relations and vertical transmission of traditional/local environmental knowledge. The local population living in Jhelum [...] Read more.
Recent ethnobotanical studies have raised the hypothesis that religious affiliation can, in certain circumstances, influence the evolution of the use of wild food plants, given that it shapes kinship relations and vertical transmission of traditional/local environmental knowledge. The local population living in Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan comprises very diverse religious and linguistic groups. A field study about the uses of wild food plants was conducted in the district. This field survey included 120 semi-structured interviews in 27 villages, focusing on six religious groups (Sunni and Shia Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Ahmadis). We documented a total of 77 wild food plants and one mushroom species which were used by the local population mainly as cooked vegetables and raw snacks. The cross-religious comparison among six groups showed a high homogeneity of use among two Muslim groups (Shias and Sunnis), while the other four religious groups showed less extensive, yet diverse uses, staying within the variety of taxa used by Islamic groups. No specific plant cultural markers (i.e., plants gathered only by one community) could be identified, although there were a limited number of group-specific uses of the shared plants. Moreover, the field study showed erosion of the knowledge among the non-Muslim groups, which were more engaged in urban occupations and possibly underwent stronger cultural adaption to a modern lifestyle. The recorded traditional knowledge could be used to guide future development programs aimed at fostering food security and the valorization of the local bio-cultural heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
Language of Administration as a Border: Wild Food Plants Used by Setos and Russians in Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast, NW Russia
Foods 2021, 10(2), 367; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10020367 - 08 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 650
Abstract
Socio-economic changes impact local ethnobotanical knowledge as much as the ecological ones. During an ethnobotanical field study in 2018–2019, we interviewed 25 Setos and 38 Russians in the Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast to document changes in wild plant use within the last [...] Read more.
Socio-economic changes impact local ethnobotanical knowledge as much as the ecological ones. During an ethnobotanical field study in 2018–2019, we interviewed 25 Setos and 38 Russians in the Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast to document changes in wild plant use within the last 70 years according to the current and remembered practices. Of the 71 botanical taxa reported, the most popular were Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Vaccinium oxycoccos, Vaccinium myrtillus, Betula spp., and Rumex acetosa. The obtained data was compared with that of 37 Setos and 35 Estonians interviewed at the same time on the other side of the border. Our data revealed a substantial level of homogeneity within the plants used by three or more people with 30 of 56 plants overlapping across all four groups. However, Seto groups are ethnobotanically closer to the dominant ethnic groups immediately surrounding them than they are to Setos across the border. Further study of minor ethnic groups in a post-Soviet context is needed, paying attention to knowledge transmission patterns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
Dining Tables Divided by a Border: The Effect of Socio-Political Scenarios on Local Ecological Knowledge of Romanians Living in Ukrainian and Romanian Bukovina
Foods 2021, 10(1), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10010126 - 08 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 751
Abstract
Local cuisine is an important reservoir of local ecological knowledge shaped by a variety of socio-cultural, economic, and ecological factors. The aim was to document and compare the current use of wild and semi-cultivated plant food taxa by Romanians living in Romania and [...] Read more.
Local cuisine is an important reservoir of local ecological knowledge shaped by a variety of socio-cultural, economic, and ecological factors. The aim was to document and compare the current use of wild and semi-cultivated plant food taxa by Romanians living in Romania and Ukraine. These two groups share similar ecological conditions and historically belonged to the same province, but were divided in the 1940s by the creation of a state border. We conducted 60 semi-structured interviews with rural residents. The contemporary use of 46 taxa (plus 5 cultivated taxa with uncommon uses), belonging to 20 families, for food consumption were recorded. Romanians in Romanian Bukovina used 27 taxa belonging to 15 families, while in Ukraine they used 40 taxa belonging to 18 families. Jams, sarmale, homemade beer, and the homemade alcoholic drink “socată” are used more by Romanians in Southern Bukovina, while tea, soups, and birch sap are used more in Northern Bukovina. We discuss the strong influence of socio-political scenarios on the use of wild food plants. Cross-ethnic marriages, as well as markets and women’s networks, i.e., “neighbors do so”, may have had a great impact on changes in wild food use. In addition, rapid changes in lifestyle (open work market and social migration) are other explanations for the abandonment of wild edible plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
The Power of Wild Plants in Feeding Humanity: A Meta-Analytic Ethnobotanical Approach in the Catalan Linguistic Area
Foods 2021, 10(1), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10010061 - 29 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 910
Abstract
Wild food plants (WFP) have always been present in our kitchen, although they have not always been given the same importance as crops. In the Catalan linguistic area (CLA), covered in this paper, WFP were of great importance as a subsistence food not [...] Read more.
Wild food plants (WFP) have always been present in our kitchen, although they have not always been given the same importance as crops. In the Catalan linguistic area (CLA), covered in this paper, WFP were of great importance as a subsistence food not only during the years of the Spanish civil war (1936–1939) and World War II (1939–1945), but also long before these periods and in the years thereafter. The CLA has been well studied at the level of traditional knowledge on plant biodiversity, and much of this information is collected in a database by the EtnoBioFiC research group. The aim of this work is to carry out a meta-analysis of the WFP dataset of the CLA (only regarding edible uses, drinks excluded) and to identify the most quoted plants, and the information associated with them. With data from 1659 informants, we recorded 10,078 use reports of 291 taxa (278 of which at specific or subspecific levels and 13 only determined at generic level) belonging to 67 families. The most reported taxa, also with highest cultural importance indexes, are Thymus vulgaris, Foeniculum vulgare subsp. piperitum, Laurus nobilis, Rubus ulmifolius and Mentha spicata. The ethnobotanicity index for food plants is 6.62% and the informant consensus factor, also for food uses, is a very high 0.97, supporting the robustness of the information. The results provided and discussed in this work concern a significant part of the edible resources in the territory considered, which is, often and mainly, underestimated and underutilised. Its consideration could be an opportunity to promote closer and more sustainable agriculture. From the state-of-the-art of this question, it is possible to propose old, in some cases forgotten foods that could be newly introduced onto the market, first, but not only, at a local level, which could be interesting for new crop development in the frame of a valorisation of territorial identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
An Exploratory Study on the Diverse Uses and Benefits of Locally-Sourced Fruit Species in Three Villages of Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
Foods 2020, 9(11), 1581; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111581 - 31 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 702
Abstract
Globally, the potential of indigenous and neglected fruit species is continuously being recognized. In the current study, we explored the uses and benefits of locally available fruit species among the Mapulana people in Bushbuckridge Local Municipality. An ethno-botanical survey was conducted using in-depth [...] Read more.
Globally, the potential of indigenous and neglected fruit species is continuously being recognized. In the current study, we explored the uses and benefits of locally available fruit species among the Mapulana people in Bushbuckridge Local Municipality. An ethno-botanical survey was conducted using in-depth interviews to record the names of the fruit species, their uses, seasonal availability, and occurrence in three villages, namely, Mokhololine, Motlamogatsane, and Rooiboklaagte B. Forty-one (41) participants aged 23 to 89 years old, identified by community members as knowledgeable on the utilization of fruit species, were interviewed. The frequency of citation (FC), use value (UV), and use report (UR) of the locally sourced fruit species were determined. The study revealed thirty-one (31) indigenous/naturalized plants belonging to 17 families with Anacardiaceae (four species) and Rubiaceae (three species) as the dominant ones. Approximately 48% of the 31 plants had FC of 100%, suggesting their high popularity in the study area. The identified plants had diverse uses that were categorized into six (6) groups and mainly dominated by food (59%) and medicine (34%). Strychnos madagascariensis had the highest (0.56) UV while Berchemia discolor, Parinari capensis, Parinari curatellifolia, and Sclerocarya birrea had the highest (6) URs. Overall, these locally sourced fruit species still play a significant role in the daily lives of the Mapulana people. The identified fruit species have the potential to be considered as alternative sources to meet the dietary requirements and health needs, especially in rural communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
Wild Food Plants and Trends in Their Use: From Knowledge and Perceptions to Drivers of Change in West Sumatra, Indonesia
Foods 2020, 9(9), 1240; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9091240 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2292
Abstract
Wild food plants (WFPs) are often highly nutritious but under-consumed at the same time. This study aimed to document the diversity of WFPs, and assess perceptions, attitudes, and drivers of change in their consumption among Minangkabau and Mandailing women farmers in West Sumatra. [...] Read more.
Wild food plants (WFPs) are often highly nutritious but under-consumed at the same time. This study aimed to document the diversity of WFPs, and assess perceptions, attitudes, and drivers of change in their consumption among Minangkabau and Mandailing women farmers in West Sumatra. We applied a mixed-method approach consisting of interviews with 200 women and focus group discussions with 68 participants. The study documented 106 WFPs (85 species), and Minangkabau were found to steward richer traditional knowledge than Mandailing. Although both communities perceived WFPs positively, consumption has declined over the last generation. The main reasons perceived by respondents were due to the decreased availability of WFPs and changes in lifestyle. The contemporary barriers to consuming WFPs were low availability, time constraints, and a limited knowledge of their nutritional value. The key motivations for their use were that they are free and “unpolluted” natural foods. The main drivers of change were socio-economic factors and changes in agriculture and markets. However, the persistence of a strong culture appears to slow dietary changes. The communities, government and NGOs should work together to optimize the use of this food biodiversity in a sustainable way. This integrated approach could improve nutrition while conserving biological and cultural diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
Foraging in Boreal Forest: Wild Food Plants of the Republic of Karelia, NW Russia
Foods 2020, 9(8), 1015; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9081015 - 29 Jul 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1579
Abstract
While the current consumption of wild food plants in the taiga of the American continent is a relatively well-researched phenomenon, the European taiga area is heavily underrepresented in the scientific literature. The region is important due to its distinctive ecological conditions with restricted [...] Read more.
While the current consumption of wild food plants in the taiga of the American continent is a relatively well-researched phenomenon, the European taiga area is heavily underrepresented in the scientific literature. The region is important due to its distinctive ecological conditions with restricted seasonal availability of wild plants. During an ethnobotanical field study conducted in 2018–2019, 73 people from ten settlements in the Republic of Karelia were interviewed. In addition, we conducted historical data analysis and ethnographical source analysis. The most widely consumed wild food plants are forest berries (three Vaccinium species, and Rubus chamaemorus), sap-yielding Betula and acidic Rumex. While throughout the lifetime of the interviewees the list of used plants did not change considerably, the ways in which they are processed and stored underwent several stages in function of centrally available goods, people’s welfare, technical progress, and ideas about the harm and benefit of various products and technological processes. Differences in the food use of wild plants among different ethnic groups living in the region were on the individual level, while all groups exhibited high variability in the methods of preparation of most used berries. The sustainability of berry use over time has both ecological and economical factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
Shared but Threatened: The Heritage of Wild Food Plant Gathering among Different Linguistic and Religious Groups in the Ishkoman and Yasin Valleys, North Pakistan
Foods 2020, 9(5), 601; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9050601 - 08 May 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1206
Abstract
A wild food ethnobotanical field study was conducted in the Ishkoman and Yasin valleys, located in the Hindukush Mountain Range of Gilgit-Baltistan, northern Pakistan. These valleys are inhabited by diverse, often marginalized, linguistic and religious groups. The field survey was conducted via one [...] Read more.
A wild food ethnobotanical field study was conducted in the Ishkoman and Yasin valleys, located in the Hindukush Mountain Range of Gilgit-Baltistan, northern Pakistan. These valleys are inhabited by diverse, often marginalized, linguistic and religious groups. The field survey was conducted via one hundred and eighty semistructured interviews to record data in nine villages. Forty gathered wild food botanical and mycological taxa were recorded and identified. Comparative analysis among the different linguistic and religious groups revealed that the gathered wild food plants were homogenously used. This may be attributed to the sociocultural context of the study area, where most of the population professes the Ismaili Shia Islamic faith, and to the historical stratifications of different populations along the centuries, which may have determined complex adaptation processes and exchange of possibly distinct pre-existing food customs. A few wild plants had very rarely or never been previously reported as food resources in Pakistan, including Artemisia annua, Hedysarum falconeri, Iris hookeriana, Lepidium didymium and Saussurea lappa. Additionally, the recorded local knowledge is under threat and we analyzed possible factors that have caused this change. The recorded biocultural heritage could, however, represent a crucial driver, if properly revitalized, for assuring the food security of the local communities and also for further developing ecotourism and associated sustainable gastronomic initiatives in the area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
Devil Is in the Details: Use of Wild Food Plants in Historical Võromaa and Setomaa, Present-Day Estonia
Foods 2020, 9(5), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9050570 - 04 May 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2329
Abstract
Biodiversity needs to be preserved to ensure food security. Border zones create high but vulnerable biocultural diversity. Through reviewing scattered historical data and documenting the current use of wild food plants among people currently living in historical Setomaa and Võromaa parishes, we aimed [...] Read more.
Biodiversity needs to be preserved to ensure food security. Border zones create high but vulnerable biocultural diversity. Through reviewing scattered historical data and documenting the current use of wild food plants among people currently living in historical Setomaa and Võromaa parishes, we aimed to identify cross-cultural differences and diachronic changes as well as the role borders have played on the local use of wild plants. The Seto have still preserved their distinctive features either by consciously opposing others or by maintaining more historical plant uses. People historically living in Setomaa and Võromaa parishes have already associated the eating of wild plants with famine food in the early 20th century, yet it was stressed more now by the Seto than by Estonians. Loss of Pechory as the center of attraction in the region when the border was closed in the early 1990s brought about a decline in the exchange of knowledge as well as commercial activities around wild food plants. National support for businesses in the area today and the popularity of a healthy lifestyle have introduced new wild food plant applications and are helping to preserve local plant-specific uses in the area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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Article
Tangsa and Wancho of North-East India Use Animals not only as Food and Medicine but also as Additional Cultural Attributes
Foods 2020, 9(4), 528; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9040528 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1021
Abstract
Cultural and ritual uses of animals beyond those for food and medicine should not be dismissed if we wish to understand the pressure that wildlife is under. We documented such uses for the Tangsa and Wancho tribals of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh (India). Group [...] Read more.
Cultural and ritual uses of animals beyond those for food and medicine should not be dismissed if we wish to understand the pressure that wildlife is under. We documented such uses for the Tangsa and Wancho tribals of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh (India). Group discussions with assembled members of 10 accessible villages in each of the tribal areas were carried out in 2015 and 2016. Vernacular names of culturally important species were noted and details of hunting practices were recorded. The different uses of animals and their parts during rituals and festivals and their significance in decorations and adornments, in supernatural beliefs and in connection with tribal folklore (stories) are documented. Folklore helps us understand why some species are hunted and consumed while others for no apparent reason are killed or simply ignored. Similarities as well as differences between the two tribes were recorded and possible reasons for the differences are given. The roles that the government as well as the tribal leaders play to halt or slow down the erosion and gradual disappearance of traditions that define the two cultures without losing already rare and endangered species are highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ethnobiology of Wild Foods)
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