Impact of economic changes on the diet of Chukotka Natives

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Kozlov, Andrew (2004)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Circumpolar Health (issn: 1797-237X, eissn: 1239-9736)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/ijch.v63i3.17717
  • Subject: Chukchi, demography, economic changes, food composition, market food, nutrition, nutritional preferences, traditional food, Yupik

This paper describes and analyses changes in food composition and nutritional preferences among the Chukchi and Yupik of coastal Chukotka in the last 15 years. The economic collapse of the infrastructure of Chukotka region has resulted in many indigenous northerners reverting to the traditional subsistence economy. Relatively expensive market foods are being replaced by cheaper ones, and by more readily available local foods. Percent contribution of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates to total caloric intake has not changed substantially, but sources of the major nutrients have become different. In 1985, local marine mammals accounted for about half of the consumed meat (55%), while in 2000 the share of it increased to 89 %. Market fats and oils are also being substituted by the fat of marine mammals. However, the contemporary diet of the natives of coastal Chukotka differs significantly from the traditional one. The meat of seals and gray whales (small sized and less dangerous to harvest) remains seasonally accessible, but can not be stored for long times. There is an insufficient amount of walrus and bowhead whale meat, which can be prepared in traditional style by fermentation, and stored for a long time. This probably also provides a specific protection against Helicobacter pylori. The young people today are more oriented towards local food-stuff: 76 % Coastal Chukchee and Yupik under the age of 30 indicated a preference for native foods over European ("Russian") ones, while this share is lower (66 %) among people older than 30 years. Overall, 86 % of natives consider that whale hunting, as the main source of food, should be increased (in 1985, only 45% suggested so).(Int J Circumpolar Health 2004; 63(3):235-242)Keywords: Chukchi, demography, economic changes, food composition, market food, nutrition, nutritional preferences, traditional food, Yupik
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