Wild alternatives: the role and significance of wild food harvesting in West Virginia foodways

Authors: Evelyn C Griffith*, West Virginia University, Kaleb B Pietkoski*, West Virginia University, Jonathan C Hall, West Virginia University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Agricultural Geography, Resources
Keywords: foodways, wild game, self provisioning, food transitions
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Bacchus, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Industrial food production dominates the food landscape of modern civilizations with the bulk of per capita food consumption coming from domesticated species. Wild foods (foraged flora and wild game) play an important role for certain individuals and communities, but the dynamics of these foods are not well understood within the landscape of food consumption in advanced nation-states. In order to better understand the role of wild game in the foodways of largely rural human environment we compare commercial meat production and wild game harvest patterns in West Virginia. Among a collection of comparisons our data show that the five year average of harvested wild game and commercial red meat production in West Virginia was roughly equal - seven million pounds. The spatial distribution of wild game harvesting also shows the importance of this practice in food desert areas, suggesting wild food self-provisioning is essential for certain communities. We discuss the importance of these findings, their conspicuous absence from mainstream discourse of food security in West Virginia, and the role wild game harvesting plays in food sovereignty and food transitions. Our work here serves as a foundation for an improved understanding of multifaceted foodways in West Virginia and other communities where food security is a systemic issue.

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