Nutritional Anthropology and Me


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Nutritional Anthropology and Me

  1. 1. Nutritional Anthropology and Me  Human Biology taken with ecological NUTRITIONAL concepts in late 60s, early 70s Energy flow studies: Rappaport, Thomas ANTHROPOLOGY   Coursework: genetics, physiology, nutrition AN IDIOSYNCRATIC AND INCOMPLETE  Dissertation proposal to study energy flow in the INTRODUCTION Tokelau IslandsNutritional Anthropology and A pet peeveMe Study nutrition and physiology for input -output balance input-  Biological anthropology approach to nutrition Energy flow project scrapped, switch to Samoan obesity  tends to be heavy on the biology, light on Diet- Diet-activity approach: anthropology, tends to have little appreciation  Results: modernization of diet was not associated obesity, but modernization of activity patterns was for behavior  First publications based on dietary change  See Johnston’s (1987) Nutritional Anthropology Follow- Follow- up on growth based on Well Baby Clinic Records:  • Inf luences of infant f eeding practices on child growth  The first few times that I taught Nutritional – Results: bottle-fed babies are fatter children bottle- Anthropology the classes were heavy on Recent: paper on Food, Power, and Globalization in Samoa to be  given at the ASAO in February, 2006 nutrition, physiology, and biology Joined Council on Nutritional Anthropology early 1980s  Nutritional intake, energy expenditure,  Vice President and Editor of the CommuNicAtor , 1988-1990 CommuNicAtor, 1988- anthropometrics, genes and dietI supervised two M.A. projects A brief historical backgroundthat changed my focus: Nutritional survey of a small rural community in Hale  Garrick Mallery’s paper, “Manners and meals” (1888), County, 1984 appeared in Volume 1, No. 3, of the American  Most interesting aspects were the informal trade networks Anthropologist. based on hunted, gathered and gardened foods  Mallery takes a broad cross-cultural perspective on eating, cross- Study of foodways in the Bahamas, 1984 commenting on various practices and seeking the origins of  Interesting differences in the use of foods between urban some habits rural areas, including the overwhelming influence of Miami  “Anciently (and still in the lower stages of culture) no regular on Bimini--including the celebration of Thanksgiving Bimini--including hours for meals were observed. The avocations on which subsistence depended were spasmodic, at least in success, As a result, I got involved in trying to understand the or periodic, in terms of seasons, not hours. Savages eat cultural aspects of dietary change in Samoa, resulting when they can get food and continue to eat so long as the in one of my articles assigned later in class food lasts.” lasts.” 1
  2. 2. A brief historical background Wilbur Olin Atwater The switch from experimental studies on animals to  First Director of the human food consumption studies relying on Office of Experimental ethnographic material to contextualize the nutritional Stations of the U.S.D.A. data occurred in the 1890s  Convinced Congress to Von Rechenberg’s (1890) study of the diet of Saxon fund nutrition studies handweavers. handweavers .  $15,000 per state  Questionnaires, direct observation, and interviews provided budgeted for 1890! the social background to his diet study.  Initiated diet advice Dramatic change from the animal based studies of based on nutritional nutrition, or the strict study of consumed foods. composition of foodsAtwater Tuskegee study Atwater and his collaborator, Charles Woods,  Class comparison: • Those near the village and attached to the Institute lived selected Tuskegee, Alabama for the OES ’s first study OES’ comfortably of African American food habits in 1895 • Others, particularly families on large plantations, labored in  Took advantage of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute hopeless poverty and were meant to be typical of most African American farm families in the so- called “Black Belt ” so- and Booker T. Washington  Appointed Washington research supervisor  Description of Material style of living:  Most families in the countryside around Tuskegee lived in one- one-  Enlisted 18 families or two-room log cabins with little furniture two-  There was a spring and a winter phase to the study • One or two rope bedsteads, corn shuc k mattresse s, patchwork  Families were visited daily by a field worker quilts and maybe a clock • He weighed all foods brought into the household and collected • Also usually a small cupboard, a few dishes, a wooden chest or ethnographic information over a period of 2 weeks old trunk for holding food and clothing, a pine table, a few cha irs, a chairs,  The families included villagers, tenant farmers and plantation pair of andirons and an iron pot workers living up to 9 miles away representing a range of social  Few people owned land. Most rented between 20 and 60 acres and economic conditions • Tenants generally had at least one mule or an ox, and most owned at least one pig and some chickens • People living in and near the village usually kept a cowTuskegee study Tuskegee study  People worked just over 7 months/year  Tuskegee families prepared simple meals  Farmers devoted most of their land to cotton  Most people sliced their salt pork or bacon thin and cooked it in in their fireplace  They grew corn (maize), sweet potatoes, sugar cane and • Bacon grease was mixed with molasse s to make “ sap.” sap.” sorghum for food, but rarely enough to meet their needs • People ate meat and sap with cornbread, which they made simply  Only a few had gardens for growing collards, turnips and other from cornmeal and water baked on a griddle or the flat surface of of vegetables. a hoe • This was the standard meal, 3 times a day, 365 days/year with  Staple foods included fat salt pork, cornmeal, molasses, lard few exceptions and wheat flour – During late fall or winter, fresh pork and sweet potatoes were s erved served  Some families were unfamiliar with anymeat other than fat salt – Occasionally, someone prepared an opossum dinner seasoned with red peppers and baked surrounded by sweet potatoes in a big pot pork, chicken and game such as possum and rabbit – People made “cracklin bread ” by fry ing f at until brittle, crushing it into a • Beef and mutton were eaten in just one African American mixture of cornmeal, water, soda and salt, and baking household, and its head was an employee of the Institute. – They also boiled collards or turnips with pork f at to make the vegetables taste “rich” rich” – Vegetables other than sweet potatoes were peripheral to the diet 2
  3. 3. Tuskegee study A brief historical background  There was a seasonal decline in nutrition which was  Goss(1897) studied Hispanic dietaries attributed to a sharp winter decrease in egg and dairy production in New Mexico  Farmers in winter had less cash to purchase food  The underlying problem was a so-called “mortgage system” so- system”  Took a social perspective on their diet, • The landowner or storekeepers would make loans for tenants to including looking at class and diet buy seed and tools to last from planting to harvest – The f armer signed a “waiv e note ” giv ing the lender f irst right to note”  His sample included one middle -class middle- whatev er portion of the crop was needed to pay off the debt household and two lower- class households lower- – Due to the high rates of interest, little was left to sell at th end of the e season  Neither lower class household ingested a • The system favored the cash crop, cotton, over food production single gram of animal protein over the course of • As farmers exhausted their stores of homegrown corn and homemade molasse s, they needed to increase purchases from 14 days of observation the local store • This prompted a restudy of one of the same – The consumption of bacon, a store product usually purchased in small small households a year later quantities every week illustrates the seasonality – Consumption averaged 194 g/d among tenants and plantation hands – Found consumption of 4 gm/d animal protein during the spring months versus 103 g/d compared to 29 gm/d for the middle-class household middle- studied the year beforeGoss continued A brief historical background  Families of both classes ate meals  Jenks (1900) studied Native American wild structured around a common core rice gatherers in the upper Great Lakes  Corn, wheat flour, beans, eggs, granulated region sugar, potatoes, and chilies  Ethnography had a minor component of nutritional  Lard or “lard compound” was a core item as compound” analysis in what was primarily an ethnographic well, but meat products were peripheral account of "primitive" economics for the Bureau of  None of the families used dairy products American Ethnology • Animal products accounted for approximately 15% of  This study provides a model for treatment of the food budget for the lower-class families and 33% lower- food in many of the 20th century for the middle-class household middle- • The middle class enjoyed a somewhat more varied ethnographies, where it occupies a peripheral diet, but still the family ate just 7.5 different foods per position week compared to 5 for the lower -class families lower-A brief historical background A brief historical background As part of the Office of Experimental Stations series,  1930sthe Brits started to do work on Woods and Mansfield (1904) studied foods of Maine lumbermen for the U.S.D.A., and provided a dietary the colonies, especially in Africa study within an ethnographic account  Gilks and Orr (1931) did metabolic studies  Includes nutritional and metabolic analyses of recorded diets among two East African groups, the Masai McCarrison (1928) studied the diets of Sikhs, (ostensibly carnivores), and the Akikuyu Pathans, Pathans , Bengalis, and other Indian groups by (vegetarians) feeding their diets to laboratory animals  They concluded that nutritional status was  He concluded that "the striking differences in the physique of different Indian races are due, in the main, to differences in related to diet, and that anthropological factors biological value of their national diets" (the cattle complex) influenced food intake 3
  4. 4. Audrey Richards Audrey Richards Richards (1932, and others) is generally taken as the  Richards carefully examined all social beginning of the anthropological study of food habits  She studied the Bemba of Northern Rhodesia, using a relations as they related to food exchange functionalist model to illustrate the interrelationship between  She considered the emotional qualities assigned diet and other cultural institutions to different foods  Richards concluded that the reasons natives did not work harder (a primary concern for British mining and other  Their desirability in terms of taste and digestibility, their economic interests) was not a question of sloth but of importance in the native ceremonial life undernutrition • E.g., the importance of grains used in beer brewing, and  Since men had been drawn away to labor in the mines, women the excitement that accompanied opportunities to eat meat found it difficult to perform the heavy clearing tasks traditionally traditionally assumed by men, in addition to their own cultivation and  Peoples perceptions of the nutritional qualities and gathering roles physiological effects of different staple grains and  During the period of the year when women most needed food relishes eaten with them energy to sustain clearing and planting of fields, food was in • The Bemba seemed to recognize the relationships shortest supply between low energy intake and lack of energy to perform • Thus, the women were enmeshed in an ongoing cycle of work, and consciously conserved energy during the lean, underproduction and undernutrition. cold seasonAudrey Richards Audrey Richards • They had a concept of the ideal proportion of grain to  Her reports, collected by selective observations, interviews, an d and relish in the ordinary diet, and some women, when informant diaries over a relatively short period of time, includ e include they were too tired to gather ingredients for relish, general descriptions of gardening, crop successions, and time might not prepare the grain either, since it was hard allocated to different food production, collecting, and food to get the grain down without the lubrication of the processing tasks relish  Her model for the "food" aspect of culture was also • The social dimensions of food production, interdisciplinary, as she employed botanists, nutritionists, and preparation, distribution, and consumption biochemists to aid in identifying and assessing the nutritional – All kinship relations were marked by prescribed rules values of foods for sharing  Her work influenced later studies of the changing – These obligations break down in times of dearth, when interrelationships between social organization of production and people tended to hoard meager supplies distribution of food, diet, and nutritionA brief historical background A brief historical background 1935 the British International African Institute  Early 1940s: U.S. National Research Council appointed a Diet Committee to construct a Committee on Food Habits comparative nutritional databank  Set up to study the psychological and cultural  Meyer Fortes and Audrey Richards were among the patterns of diet anthropologists collaborating in this effort  One major goal was to understand ethnic food habits to An early study of the effects of westernization of food make culturally acceptable recommendations to improve and products among non -industrialized groups was done non- ration nutrition during WW II by Price (1939)  Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict were anthropologists on the committee  His title “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” gives an • Mead (1943) cautioned about the use of anthropology to shape indication of his bias behavior in unknown directions – Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences Benedict and Steggerda (1937) studied diet among modern day Mayans in the Yucatan, trying to explain  Nutritional anthropology took off with the instigation of high metabolic rates studies of applications of ethnographic knowledge to nutritional problems 4
  5. 5. A brief historical background A brief historical background Regional food habits in the Southwest U.S. were  Pre -mastication Pre- of supplementary infant food studied in the 1940s, by the Bureau of Indian Affairs was discouraged, and as a result, infants and the University of Chicago began turning up with anemia Three Indian areas and two Hispanic areas were surveyed by Pijo án (1942) Pijoá  Breast milk alone is insufficient as a source of iron in the second semester (six months) of life The research was used to make changes in the diet  Without economic resources to buy infant of the people with the goal of improving nutrition supplements, the children were becoming Two spectacular examples of failure based on malnourished cultural misunderstanding were noted  In consultation with the Indians, a decision was  Discouraging pre-mastication of infant foods pre- made to go back to pre-mastication. pre-  Advocating consumption of choke-cherries choke-A brief historical background A brief historical background In an attempt to increase Vitamin C intake,  Oliver(1943) was studying the inhabitants of the consumption of the fresh choke cherry Bougainville in the Solomon islands about the was advocated same time  From increasing this consumption, several Indians  He described the failures of two attempts to became sick from cyanide poisoning as the change ("improve") their dietaries: amygdalin in the seeds was transformed to poison in the digestive tract  One group were mountain dwellers with taro as a dietary staple  After one young woman died, the Indians were • They had calcium and protein deficiencies advised not to eat the seeds, but the way the • Women were responsible for planting, harvesting, cooking, warning was translated, the fruit was abandoned and apportioning taro as a food • Residence was matrilocal and inheritance was matrilinealOliver, continued Oliver, continued  The other group lived in the lowlands with several staples • The credibility of the official was severely in addition to taro undermined by his belittling of taro, which was a • The diet was well balanced, and the society functioned as highly valued prestige food in the mountains ambilocal and ambilineal  In the lowlands, the chiefs chosen to receive • Men were responsible for some of the food preparation the seeds were not necessarily gate- keepers gate- and cultivation  In the villages where gate- keeper chiefs were gate-  A colonial official gave packets of seeds to the given seeds and convinced of their worth, the chiefs with instructions how to plant them, and a new crops took hold message that taro was of little nutritional worth  In villages where gate -keepers were ignored, or gate-  In the mountains, by giving the seeds to the chiefs, not where the official failed to convince gate- gate- the women responsible for cultivation, the project was keepers of the value of new crops, they were immediately doomed shunned 5
  6. 6. A brief historical background A brief historical background Lewin (1943) came up with the channel  A study of the introduction of a high - yield variety of high- theory maize was in New Mexico was reported by Apodaca  Conceptualizes the movement of food through a (1952) group as flow through channels  A State Agricultural Extension Agent analyzed all the  Marketing, processing, producing channels environmental aspects and concluded that the new variety was needed  controlled by gate- keepers gate-  The agent worked through the local leadership, and didnt  Chiefs, priests, nurses, etc. start until everyone understood what needed to be done, and  He claimed it was essential to understand and why gain the confidence of the gate- keepers in order to gate-  Within four years, all the local farmers had abandoned the effect dietary change new variety in spite of threefold increases in yield  This perspective reemphasizes the importance of ethnographic workA brief historical background A brief historical background  The new variety made cornmeal that was not good  There are numerous other examples of the for tortillas because of the texture and color application or misapplication of anthropological studies to solving nutritional problems  The farmers wives would not use the new maize,  In addition to the applied area, nutritional and so had to revert to the older, lower yielding anthropology rose in importance in the 1960s in variety response to infusions from ecology: Human ecology,  Part of the agents error stemmed from his lack of cultural ecology, socioecology understanding that the local people would not  Two famous works from this time period focused on contradict the opinion of an "expert", out of their energy flow or input and output of the subsistenc e cultural tradition of courtesy regimens: Rappaport among the Maring and Lee among the !KungRappaport and the Maring Lee and the !Kung Rappaport studied a Maring village in highland New  Lee performed an input-output analysis of input- Guinea, and proposed an ecological explanation for !Kung Bushmen subsistence practices, the ritual cycle found among the Maring concluding that hunter/gatherers have a very He found that as pig populations increase in size, more and more energy is devoted to maintaining the easy life in terms of the amount of work that pigs and keeping them out of the gardens, until a must be done to support the population critical point is reached and a ritual is performed that  This work started the school of thought of the includes slaughtering large numbers of pigs and original affluence and complicated arguments going to war with neighboring groups about the origins of agriculture 6
  7. 7. A brief historical background More History Inthe 1970s, work progressed along both  In 1974, the Committee (then Council) on Nutritional cultural and biological dimensions: Anthropology (CNA) was formed at the AAA  Thomas produced the definitive energy flow study meetings in Mexico City with his work on energy flow at high altitude  For several years, CNA was affiliated with the AAA among the Quechua as a special interest group within the Society for  One of his students at Cornell started applying the Medical Anthropology optimal foraging model to human populations  In 1987, the council became a separate unit of the  Mary Douglas and others approached diet from the perspective of symbolic anthropology AAA  Harris was explaining dietary choices from an  The CNA became the Society for the Anthropology of adaptive perspective to validate his cultural Food and Nutrition SAFN in 2004 materialismMore History More History The SAFN has these goals:  I served as Vice President of the CNA and Editor  to encourage research and exchange of ideas, of its newsletter, The CommuNicAtor, from 1988 to theories, methods and scientific information 1990  Volume 13 number 1 through volume 14 number 1 relevant to understanding the socio-cultural, socio-  behavioral and political- economic factors related political- to food and nutrition;  SAFN began the publication of the refereed  to provide a forum for communication and journal Nutritional Anthropology in Spring interaction among scientists sharing these 1998, continuing the numbering from volume interests and with other appropriate organizations; 21 number 2 of the newsletter  to promote practical collaboration among social  and nutritional scientists at the fields and program levels.Some useful reviews Journal sources from Messer Haas JD, and Harrison GG 1977. Nutritional  Ecology of Food and Nutrition anthropology and biological adaptation.  Food and Nutrition Bulletin (and other publications of the United Nations University) Annual Review of Anthropology, 8:69-101. 8:69-  Food Policy Mintz SW, and Du Bois CM. 2002. The  Nutrition Research Anthropology of food and eating. Annual  World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics Review of Anthropology, 31:99–119. 31:99–  Medical Anthropology Messer E. 1984. Anthropological  Social Science and Medicine Perspectives on Diet. Annual Review of  Medical Anthropology Newsletter (Medical Anthropology Quarterly) Anthropology, 13:205 -249. 13:205-  The CommuNicAtor (Newsletter of the Council on Nutritional Anthropology) 7
  8. 8. Journal sources from Messer Culture and Agriculture The Digest (Publication of the University of Pennsylvania Food Group of the Department of Folklore and Folklife) Food and Foodways Appetite Human Ecology Ethnobiology and a gastronomic section in Social Science Information 8