Eating the Landscape: American Indian Stories of Food, Identity, and Resilience (First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies)

October 31, 2020
Eating the Landscape: American Indian Stories of Food, Identity, and Resilience (First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies)

"Eating is not only a political act, it is also a cultural actthat reaffirms one's identity and worldview," Enrique Salmón writesin Eating the Landscape. Traversing a range of cultures,including the Tohono O'odham of the Sonoran Desert and the Rarámuriof the Sierra Tarahumara, the book is an illuminating journeythrough the southwest United States and northern Mexico. Salmónweaves his historical and cultural knowledge as a renownedindigenous ethnobotanist with stories American Indian farmers haveshared with him to illustrate how traditional indigenousfoodways—from the cultivation of crops to the preparation ofmeals—are rooted in a time-honored understanding of environmentalstewardship.In this fascinating personal narrative, Salmón focuses on anarray of indigenous farmers who uphold traditional agriculturalpractices in the face of modern changes to food systems such asextensive industrialization and the genetic modification of foodcrops. Despite the vast cultural and geographic diversity of theregion he explores, Salmón reveals common themes: the importance ofparticipation in a reciprocal relationship with the land, theconnection between each group's cultural identity and theirecosystems, and the indispensable correlation of land consciousnessand food consciousness. Salmón shows that these collectivephilosophies provide the foundation for indigenous resilience asthe farmers contend with global climate change and otherdisruptions to long-established foodways. This resilience, alongwith the rich stores of traditional ecological knowledge maintainedby indigenous agriculturalists, Salmón explains, may be the key tosustaining food sources for humans in years to come.As many of us begin to question the origins and collateral costsof the food we consume, Salmón's call for a return to moretraditional food practices in this wide-ranging and insightful bookis especially timely. Eating the Landscape is an essentialresource for ethnobotanists, food sovereignty proponents, andadvocates of the local food and slow food movements.