Recent Dietary Change of Arctic Peoples

As noted above, contemporary Arctic residents have diets that contain both traditional wildlife food and market food purchased in food stores. In some areas of Greenland and the European Arctic, wildlife food is also sold in food stores. However, for the purposes of comparison, it is possible to consider wildlife food in contrast to purchased food derived from agricultural production and imported into the Arctic. Studies that investigate the personal consumption of Arctic foods generally depend on techniques based on 24-h recall or food frequency interviews. These are then treated by computer with databases of food composition to derive quantities and contents of the food consumed.

Today, Yukon First Nations, Dene/Metis, and Inuit community adult residents in the Canadian Arctic are reported to consume from 5% to 40% of their average energy intake from wildlife animal and plant foods, with the balance coming from imported market food. Communities that are closer to urban centers accessible by road consume less traditional wildlife food than those in rural areas, particularly those without road access. Children and young adults consume smaller quantities of wildlife foods than older adults and elders, and men generally consume greater quantities of wildlife meats than women.

Portion sizes of wildlife food vary greatly, depending on seasonal availability and preferences; however, it is reported that when meat is consumed by families that have a hunter or fisher in the family, the quantities consumed in meals can be very large, and up to 700 g of meat or fish may be consumed by one person in a day. Arctic families who depend on purchasing market meats consume much smaller quantities of these foods, which contain high protein and other nutrients.

The multiple cultural benefits of the use of wildlife animals and plants by indigenous peoples are reported in the entry on Animal Rights Movements and Renewable Resources.

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