Native Americans Get Healthy with Traditional Foods

By Dave Rosenthal

What better time than Thanksgiving to re-examine the Decolonizing Diet Project? It aims to improve the health of Native Americans by focusing on foods that existed before Europeans came to North America. 

As recounted by Great Lakes Now, it all started a few years ago, with Dr. Martin Reinhardt. He's an Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and an assistant professor of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University.

He was worried about Native Americans' ailments -- high blood pressure, obesity, etc. -- so he devised an experiment. He and a couple dozen others agreed to eat only foods that grew in the Great Lakes region hundreds of years ago. 

Though it admittedly was a small sample, the group lost weight and saw improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and other key health measures.

Great Lakes Now offers a few sample recipes, including venison roasted with cranberries and wild blueberry pudding. You can find more in “The Decolonizing Diet Project Cookbook.”

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