11 Pages

Diet and the Tiruray Shift from Swidden to Plow Farming

WithStuart A. Schlegel, Helen A. Guthrie

The Tiruray are a Philippine tribe traditionally adapted to forested mountains. In recent years the forests are being destroyed by outside influences and their economy is rapidly being transformed from a forest swidden regime to a plow-farming one on cleared land. Hunting, fishing, and gathering of wild resources have virtually disappeared. This paper reports a study done in two Tiruray communities at opposite poles of this shift in the subsistence system. Diet data were recorded over a full year on the food consumed by a typical male in each community. The nutritional value of the diet of the traditional Tiruray and that of the peasant Tiruray are compared, and both are evaluated in relation to Philippine recommended dietary standards. The data reveal clearly the major shifts in ecological setting, the diminished significance of wild resources, and the vastly increased dependence on market foods. The Tiruray view that the shift has resulted in an impoverished diet is not substantiated. Finally, the study suggests that Tiruray have adapted to a considerably lower level of nutrient intake than that generally recommended for Filipino men.