From Bush Mangoes to Bouillon Cubes: Wild Plants and Diet among the Baka, Forager-Horticulturalists from Southeast Cameroon

Sandrine Gallois*, Thomas Heger, Tinde van Andel, Bonaventure Sonké, Amanda G. Henry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Increasing deforestation affects tropical forests, threatening the livelihoods of local populations who subsist on forest resources. The disappearance of wild plants and animals and the increasing influence of market economies affect local health, well-being, and diet. The impact of these changes on wild meat consumption has been well documented, but little attention has been given to wild edible plants, despite their importance as sources of calories and micronutrients. Furthermore, the relationships among food behavior strategies adopted by local populations, their psycho-cultural representations of food, and their food preferences have been poorly explored. In this study, we investigate food behaviors with an emphasis on the role of wild edible plants among a forager-horticulturalist society from the Congo Basin: the Baka. By combining an ethnobotanical survey with data from interviews (n = 536) related to food behaviors and representations of food, our data show that the Baka valorize both agricultural and marketable foods, and that wild plants represent a minor part of their diet, both in frequency and diversity. Finally, by examining how some wild edible plants have shifted from being eaten to being sold, we explore how market-oriented uses of wild edible plants may affect dietary behaviors and biocultural resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46–58
Number of pages13
JournalEconomic Botany
Volume74
Early online date9 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Edibles
  • Ethnobotany
  • Food behavior
  • Food preferences
  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Nutritional transition

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