Tribal Community Food Networks
Creating a LOCAL Healthy Food Network within the Navajo Nation through entrepreneurship, farmers and ranchers to improve access
When thinking of groceries, many different ideas come to mind. From a traditional Dine perspective, “groceries” would be quite a unique list of items likely to be sourced only on Navajo or by Navajo people. The list might look something like this: “ blood sausage, mutton jerky, dried blue corn, juniper ash, and Navajo cushaw squash”. To Dine, this food is medicine, not groceries. During the peak of the pandemic mutual aid organizers and community leaders provided food/groceries and water to the most rural areas of the reservation. Not only did they provide, but also encouraged optimum health by boosting your immune system with certain natural nutritious foods. There is clear research that organic, natural, locally sourced food is one of the main tools to combat the health crises and this pandemic. Aside from culture and health, there are many other beneficial reasons for sourcing from local growers and producers. Many producers advocate for initiatives in climate change, water rights, land restoration, and more. Local organizations also have established bonds with their community members where support can grow from.
Conversation with Navajo Nation VP Marvin Lizer
Solve Food Desert
Grocery stores are an essential need on the Navajo reservation, and the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened that awareness. We live in a food desert with only thirteen grocery stores for the whole reservation which spans about 17,544,500 acres. Some residents have to drive two hours or more just to buy food at the grocery storen
Foods to Improve our health and re establish our "Blue Zone"
Inspiration for new types of Grocery stores for longevity
In his book, Blue Zones, Daniel Buetner studies places in the world where people are living the longest and continue to be healthy at the end at over 100 years of age in mind, body, and spirit. He has identified a set of habits and factors that can help society re achieve that quality of life. The principles are very similar to what we Natives are taught
Food, strong mind, fitness, outdoor activity, diligence
Time Tested Traditional Tribal Tools against the coronavirus
Now that the virus has been with us for a year we have learned a few things. First, important for this article, is that our traditional medicinal practices still practiced by our tribal peoples for centuries hold some tools to deal with the virus.
For example, the tribes of the Americas have identified over 200 plants, tested by tribal scientists for thousands of years to heal which has contributed to our world’s medicines. Tribes successfully dealt with past pandemics using similar methods