Conserving the Sacred: From Food Insecurity toward Food Sovereignty
A presentation by Annie Presler
I was raised in a family of twelve on a small acreage in Iowa, where we raised most of our own plants and animals and also fished, hunted and harvested from the wild. My mother was the first to introduce me to a few of the local edible and medicinal plants and at an early age my passion for everything wild blossomed.
After obtaining a B.A. from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa in Anthropology and Biology I took on several seasonal positions throughout the country working as an archaeologist and naturalist. I served as curator of Coker Arboretum at UNC’s North Carolina Botanical Garden for eight years and then spent five years at De Anza College in California as a curator and Instructor in Environmental Studies. I then received my M.A. in Applied Anthropology with a focus on the Environment and Ethnobotany in Quillabamba, Peru.
In 2010 I moved to Roslyn, WA and began teaching part time as an adjunct in Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Central Washington University. Currently, I am a Senior Scientist and Ethnobotanist with Northwest Anthropology, based out of Richland, WA, where I am conducting baseline habitat and ethnobotanical surveys with the Wanapum tribe.
Human food systems and traditions are part of an interactive and co-evolutionary process where human food traditions are shaped by and in turn shape the larger ecosystem in a particular biogeographic region. Both human and ecosystem adaptations co-occur in regions where humans have lived for long periods of time. Where these co-evolved systems have been disrupted either through natural or anthropogenic causes, the biological, ecological, and human costs become pronounced as indicated in the simultaneous increase in dietary related diseases and ecological dysfunction.
During this presentation, I will facilitate a discussion regarding the cultural and ecological virtues of indigenous people maintaining or returning to their traditional diet and cultural practices in recognition that human health is dependent on environmental health. By incorporating in situ traditional cultivation techniques into contemporary conservation practices we foster a nurturing approach that recognizes the need for human interaction with our ecosystems. In addition I will showcase a handful of edible and medicinal plants that are used cross-culturally and that not only benefit from, but require human interaction for long-term prosperity.