Accepted Paper:

Indigenous food systems in Brazil: marginalization or model for the future?  


Esther Katz (IRD)

Paper Short Abstract:

In Brazil, where power is given to agrobusiness, anthropologists are contributing to making indigenous food systems more visible, valorizing them, defending them in government bodies. It is worth thinking of further actions to turn these food systems into models for a wider range of the population.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropological studies led on indigenous food systems in Brazil show they are based on a combination of different activities (agriculture, gathering, fishing, hunting) and a great diversity of plant and animal resources, providing a good nutritional balance. In a country where agrobusiness (mainly focused on GMO corn, soya bean and sugar cane monoculture) plays an important economic role and is highly valued, indigenous agricultural systems are widely ignored, although they are complex, sustainable and rich in biodiversity. They could be a model for the future, but so far are marginalized. Moreover, many indigenous lands have been encroached, what deprives the people of their resources, sometimes to the point of starvation. Public policies have incited some indigenous groups to change their modes of production, leading in some cases to dramatic health and nutrition results. More recently, many indigenous people have been involved in processes of urbanization as well as of monetarization, especially under assistencialist policies. They tend therefore to give up their traditional activities and consume more industrial rather than self-produced food. We will describe here the contributions, of anthropologists, engaged in collaborative research with indigenous people through NGOs or academic institutions, to make indigenous food systems more visible, valorize them, defend them in government bodies as well as supporting indigenous people acting at local or national level for the strengthening of their own food habits. Through this session we will try to find further actions to be led in Brazil or elsewhere in order to raise traditional food systems as models and prevent ill-nutrition.

Panel P081
Sustainably solving the causes and consequences of the global food crisis: new roles, multi-decade challenges and expanded opportunities for anthropologists to provide significant aid