Thursday, March 10, 2011

Climate Change and Food Security - Can TK play a part in preventing malnutrition?

A recent report by the United Nations Standing Committe on Nutrition notes the positives of encouraging the maintenance of communities' traditional food knowledge as a measure to aid communities in the struggle against malnutrition in the developing world, particular in the light of climate change and rising global food prices. The authors, Timothy Johns and Pablo Eyzaguirre, note:

"Researchers have documented ways in which populations with traditional life-styles (often populations identified as indigenous) satisfy their nutritional needsthrough unique human-environment relationships.For example, rice, pulses, and milk products provide a balance of amino acids for subsistence farmers in India. In situations where animal protein and fat are the primary energy sources, such as among Arctic hunters and dryland pastoralists, populations have adapted specialized preparation techniques and used wild plants to ensure that essential vitamins and minerals are consumed. Nutritional sciences can help determine whether these traditional systems can be adapted for use elsewhere. Coupled with knowledge about the role of nutrition in contemporary health problems, traditional knowledge and resources can guide environmental efforts to identify sustainable solutions."

The report makes the following useful and timely point - for TK communities, dealing with the challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change, do not necessarily require the abandonment of TK practices. Rather, the use of such practices can potentially aid TK communities in this regard.

A short summary of the report is available here

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