More Than Just Marine Food
By Atom Bergstrom
The potato was a staple Pacific Northwest Indian food before Europeans made the scene in the late 1700s.
Charles R. Brown (“The Potato of the Makah Nation,” The NSF Potato Genome Project) wrote …
“Since the potato came to the American colonies with Scottish and Irish immigrants in the early 17th century (having made a long geographical and evolutionary journey from its Andean birthplace), it is a virtual certainty that the Makah’s potato comes from a different foreign donor. But who first gave them the potato, and where did this one originate? In modern times this potato has come into the commercial market under the name Ozette. Indeed the Makah refer to their potato as the Ozette, from the name of one of the original five villages.”
Of course, the Indians of the Olympic Peninsula also relied on fish, seal, whale, and otter as staple foods.
Living in a colder climate, they were obliged to drink copious amounts of seal and whale oil, rich in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DPA (docosapentaenoic acid).
They gulped it down like contemporary 7-Eleven customers guzzle Big Gulps.
The higher the metabolism, the least damage caused by polyunsaturated and highly unsaturated fatty acids.
Regarding fish, Indians were savvy enough to “eat the whole thing,” including the thyroid gland and eyes.
But you won’t find any Blue Zones where people are forced to get calories from food high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids initiate an “adrenal defense response” when eaten for as little a time as 42 days in a row, as Dr. Emanuel Revici explained in his 772-page medical textbook (Research in Physiopathology As Basis of Guided Chemotherapy—With Special Application To Cancer, 1961).
Ionizing radiation causes an identical adrenal defense response.
Meanwhile, back in the Pacific Northwest, the Indians ate a varied diet.
Nancy Chapman Turner & Marcus A. M. Bell (“The ethnobotany of the Southern Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia,” Economic Botany, Jul. 1973) wrote …
“142 plant species are known to be recognized by the Southern Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia. Means of collection, preparation, and utilization of these plants are outlined.”
According to the same source …
“The ethnobotanies of the Southern Kwakiutl and the Vancouver Island Coast Salish are briefly compared. 50% of the plants were used similarly by both groups. Most differences seem related to vegetation characteristics, degree of trade and communication, cultural features, and religious secrecy. The extent and even the type of use of species occurring in both areas often appeared to be related more to species abundance than to any inherent plant characteristics.”
Don’t forget all the forest meat on the hoof and the bunny rabbits.
Is there any doubt that mushrooms were a staple?
While living in Bellingham, Washington, chanterelle mushrooms (Cantharellus cibarius) were a daily evening dining experience for me — mixed in scrambled eggs served with thoroughly dextrinized potatoes.
My friend, King Kahani, agricultural engineer and man of many talents, filled burlap bags with them while walking through the forest.
By the way, don’t assume that marine animals (river, lake, and ocean) aren’t rich in saturated fats and cholesterol too.
River and ocean otters don’t manufacture saturated fats like palmitic and stearic acids “out of the blue.”
But they’re fond of saying, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”
A natural whole thyroid supplement is often the highest choice.
Besides DHA, EPA, and DPA, marine foods contain capric, lauric, tridecyclic, myristic, pentadecyclic, palmitic, margaric, and stearic, and arachidic acids (listed below according to lipid number).
Damian Satterthwaite-Phillips, Jan Novakofski, & Nohra Mateus-Pinilla (“Fatty acid analysis as a tool to infer the diet in Illinois river otters (Lontra canadensis),” Journal of Animal Science and Technology, Sept. 2014) wrote …
“Within our river otter samples, fatty acid profiles differed according to the deposit from which the adipose sample was dissected (either from the base of the tail or the footpad of the forepaw). The 1st PC alone accounts for 33.7% of the total variance, and there is already considerable separation (p < 0.001) of the two deposits along this component (Figure 4). This component is primarily characterized by higher proportions of 20:1, 20:0, and 17:0 in the tail (correlations = 0.87, 0.86, 0.79), and higher proportions of 16:1 and 14:1 (−0.84, −0.79) in the footpad. More generally, the footpad deposit is characterized by lower concentrations of saturated fats. With the exception of 13:0, all other saturated fats are positively correlated with this component, indicating higher proportions in the tail (correlations for 10:0, 12:0, 14:0, 15:0, 16:0, 17:0, 18:0, 20:0, 22:0, and 24:0 are 0.34, 0.75, 0.39, 0.62, 0.26, 0.79, 0.57, 0.86, 0.25, and 0.29 respectively). In a study of several species, Käkelä and Hyvärinen demonstrate similarly high concentrations of unsaturated FA in the extremities of cold-adapted species. The FA signature of the footpads is therefore likely to be cold-adapted as well, and thus a biased indicator for inferring diet. Thus, when analyzing the otter FA signatures relative to the other species, we included only the adipose tissue from the base of the tail, with the assumption that this depot did not suffer the same bias." . .