Native American author Devon A. Mihesuah’s book, Recovering Our Ancestors’ Gardens: Indigenous Recipes and Guide to Diet and Fitness, won the Special Award of the Jury from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and is a finalist for “Best in the World.”
“High incidences of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and related physical problems among indigenous peoples are pervasive consequences of colonialism,” says Mihesuah, an Oklahoma Choctaw and the Cora Lee Beers Price Teaching Professor in International Cultural Understanding at the University of Kansas’ Center for Indigenous Nations Studies. “Natives once gathered, hunted and cultivated foods that kept them physically strong. Now, many Natives across the Americas are sedentary and have lost touch with their traditional tribal knowledge, including methods of cultivating, preparing and preserving foods. Taking charge of our health by boycotting the greasy, fatty, sugary and salty foods that are killing us in favor of the nutrient-rich and unprocessed indigenous foods of this hemisphere is greatly empowering.”
The book contains sections on exercise, strategies for healthy eating, gardening and indigenous recipes, including Acorn Squash-Pumpkin Soup, Creamed Corn and Boiled Okra Soldiers. Mihesuah strongly believes in consuming fresh, homegrown foods.
“We can only do so much to combat racism and prejudice,” she notes, “but we can control what we eat, what we feed our families and how much we move around. We must take responsibility for our health and for the well-being of our children. In so doing, we pass on a legacy of self-respect and tribal strength to future generations.”