Cholla cactus, as seen here in California's Joshua Tree National Park, is a staple in some Native American food traditions. 

Cholla cactus, as seen here in California’s Joshua Tree National Park, is a staple in some Native American food traditions. 

Chris Goldberg/Flickr

In our culinary conversations about diversity, American Indian cuisine has been glaringly absent. Until now. There’s an exciting movement underway among Native American chefs who are researching, seeking out, and celebrating traditional foodways, and in the process, promoting health and cultural rediscovery in their communities.

Next: The detective work that First Americans have put into unearthing pre-contact foods may prove to be priceless. According to botanists, many of the indigenous edibles that were consumed prior to the arrival of European settlers will thrive in the drought and heat that climate change will bring. On top of that, they’re nutritious.

Finally, the biologically diverse peatlands of Southeast Asia are being drained and burned to make way for palm plantations. The effects are devastating, not just for the environment, but for human health. So read the ingredients on that package before you buy those shelf-stable treats.

Meet our panelists: Food writer Mary Paganelli is the founder of Native Foodways magazine and an expert in Tohono O’odham food traditions. Science and agriculture journalist Virginia Gewin’s work appears in publications such as The Atlantic and Nature. Heather Arndt Anderson is a botanist, food historian, and author. Our host is Katherine Cole.

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