USDA Blog: Project documents traditional foods in Great Lakes

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is encouraging tribal members to use traditional foods:
Elizabeth Nelson tasted then added more spice to a soup made with fiddlehead ferns, those curly leaves of a young fern that resemble the scrolled neck of a superbly crafted violin.

Although Nelson has made the soup hundreds of times before, her culinary prowess this day is being documented for a project called Mino Wiisinidaa!, or Let’s Eat Good! – Traditional Foods for Healthy Living.

“When we were kids, my mom would send us all out with a bucket. And she said, ‘Don’t you kids come back until that bucket is filled,’ ” said Nelson, a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians Reservation in Northwest Wisconsin. “And we would go and fill them with cow slips and fiddlehead ferns. And that was our supper for the night. That was how we lived.”

Documenting Nelson’s kitchen expertise is part of a three-year Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission project, funded by the Administration for Native Americans. The project will encourage healthy living by reintroducing food preparation taught by elders of the Anishinaabe people and based on recipes that are decades old.

“The Mino Wiisinidaa! Let’s Eat Good! project focuses on a return to traditional Anishinaabe foods in a new and healthy way,” said LaTisha Coffin, project coordinator. “We work with many elders from our member tribes that want to pass on knowledge about our traditional foods and stories about harvesting and the healthy lifestyle that came with gathering and processing your own food.”

Get the Story:
Kathryn Sosbe: Reaching Back to Traditional Native American Cooking in Search of Healthier Meals (USDA Blog 11/15)

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